I love offering my students access to as many books as possible. In my classroom, I have a very large classroom library that the students are welcome to check-out and take home. We also are fortunate to have a school library that has thousands of books for students to choose from. However, I have found that my students don’t typically have many books at home to read. Working in a school with high poverty, many of my students do not have a community library card or the opportunity to access books outside of the ones available in our school. Therefore, I love finding ways for my class to access books from home. I have found that online books are a great way to give my students the opportunity to engage in reading at home!
My school purchased subscriptions to TumbleBooks and One More Story. Both websites are great subscription programs that offer thousands of books online for students to read. Unfortunately, since they are a subscription program schools would need to invest in purchasing a license.
I wanted to find other websites that my students could use to access books that did not require a subscription. I found a website, Storyline Online, which has online videos of stories being read by celebrities. It is a great website that the students enjoy, but their is a limited selection of books to listen to. Then I was introduced to Epic!, a free website for teachers and librarians. Epic! Offers over 20,000 online books for students including many well-known books such as Fancy Nancy or Big Nate. Epic! allows students to listen to books, read books, watch educational videos, and so much more! The website has so many great features that engage students in reading but also can support in teaching state standards.
One feature that is wonderful is the opportunity find and make collections. Making a collection has so many benefits in the classroom. If you are doing research on a topic, you can find non-fiction texts and group them in a collection to share with your students. For example, my students will be learning about culture and different cultures around the world over the next few weeks in social studies. Epic! already has many collections which feature different texts and videos related to culture that I can share with my students. The students can then use these resources to learn and explore in an engaging way!
Beyond research and nonfiction texts, I can also see how Epic! can be used to meet reading standards. In third grade, students are often expected to compare texts on similar topics. One of the greatest difficulties we have in our school is access to these texts. We might have a few copies of a book, but maybe not enough for an entire guided reading group. I am excited to be able to use the digital texts offered through Epic! to assist in teaching and meeting these standards!
Epic! is a great addition to my classroom! It is engaging for students and allows me to have thousands of additional resources which can be used in reading and other curriculum areas. Check out this wonderful site and discover all of the ways it can be used in your classroom!