The Joy of Reading Online

I didn’t learn to read until I was in 3rd grade.  I remember struggling with homework and hating every minute of reading.  When I was in 3rd grade the school zones in my town changed and I began going to a new school.  It was actually the oldest school in town, but it had been remodeled into an open concept environment.  There are many wonderful things I remember about this school, but there are two things that changed my life.  The first is the teachers and kids at this school actually called me Jan.  This is the only name I had ever gone by until first grade in the old school.  I didn’t know who the teacher was talking to the first few days of first grade, and she wasn’t very nice about it either!  Calling me Jan was a game changer at that particular time and place.  The other significant event, that changed my life forever, was I learned to read.  The first book I made a connection with was The Blue Bay Mystery, A Boxcar Children’s mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner.


I checked that book out over and over until the librarian talked me into reading another Boxcar Children’s book.  I read them all eventually, and to this day my favorite genre is the Mystery Genre.

So what prompted this post?  This week a parent came to me concerned about reading with her child.  She wanted to read more at home, but they just don’t have any books.  The first thing I did was assure her that we could find reading material for her and her child to enjoy together.  The number one place to get free books is the local school or public library.  This parent and child have a tablet and a smart phone so I let them know about some online sources for free books.

My favorite source is the Northeast Texas Digital Library Consortium.  Many people my age prefer to have a traditional hard cover or paperback book.  Well, I have so many I could open my own library.  So, now I love to read online through this library or on my Kindle.  You can sign up for public online libraries through your school or public library.  They are free and a wonderful source of reading material.  You only get one copy of the book, so teachers can only download the book once and share it with students on one device.

Kindle is another great source for free books.  You can also find some inexpensive books through Amazon, both online and traditional books. Barnes and Noble have an e-reader also.  It’s called a Nook.  There are both free and paid books available.

Epic books is another wonderful place for free or inexpensive children’s books.  Epic is free for teachers and fairly inexpensive for parents.



Epic has a wide variety of reading material available.  When parents and teachers sign up, they get to pick from a broad range of interests.  I pick them all as a teacher so that all my kid’s interests will be represented.

Another favorite source is StorylineOnline.  This site has many favorite classics.  It operates on donations and is sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation.  My students always find a favorite book here.


TumbleBooks is a paid site my school purchases.  We love it.  One of the things I like best about TumbleBooks is that it can be accessed after school hours.  I share the login information with my students and parents and they have multiple books at their fingertips.


Free kid books and StoryJumper are a couple of sites you might want to check out.  The easiest way to find free online books is to search for “free online kids books” on Google.  You will find many sites available. Start checking them out to find favorite ones for you and your kiddos.

When I was a kid, you could get Little Golden Books at the grocery store.  We got them almost every time we went.  My mom says she doesn’t remember how much they were, but she is sure they were less than $1.


Today it’s almost impossible to find new, affordable books.  You can spend a fortune pretty quickly when book shopping.  The next time you need a child’s gift for birthdays or Christmas, check out Kohl’s Department Store.  That’s right Kohl’s.  They offer hard cover children’s books for $5.  You can also get the stuffed friend to go with the book for $5.  A nice gift that may inspire reading in a young mind for only $10!  This has become my go to gift for the kids in my life.  100% of the proceeds from these books goes to various children’s health initiatives.

Have a favorite online book site, share it with us in the comments section.

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Field Trip E-Readers

Every year after we finish learning about pioneers and early Texans, we take our 2nd graders to Dallas Heritage Village.  If you are from the Dallas area, this living museum use to be called Old City Park.  Teachers, students, and families love this trip.  We always have as many family members attending our field trips as students.  This support makes a wonderful day even better!  We usually go in the spring when the weather is at its best and let students and their families roam the park at their leisure.   The park provides information, but this year we decided to do a Photo Scavenger Hunt.

DHV Photo Hunt

Students and their family members sought out the suggested locations and took pictures.  Most people used their cell phones.  Some of the kids took the pictures themselves, but remember they are 2nd graders, so they mostly wanted to be in the photos.

After the field trip, family members sent the photos to teachers in an email.  Teachers uploaded the photos to a file in our Google Drive.  We shared the file with our students.  Next we taught our students how to make a Google Slide Presentation.  Students chose the photos they wanted to use and wrote about each picture.  We gave them parameters, such as how many slides needed to be in each presentation.  We wanted them to use correct capitalization, punctuating, and syntax.  They knew we were going to make these presentations into E-Readers they would share with their families.  Students shared their presentations with teachers, and we made some editing suggestions.  In the end though, we accepted the work they presented.  The kids loved making these E-Readers!  They had no difficulty in working with Google Slides.  Some of them did have a hard time deciding which photos to use.  When they completed their presentations, we saved them as a PDF.  We sent the PDF E-Reader to families in an email.  We chose to do PDF E-Readers because they can be opened on any device.

The students learned so much about creating a slide presentation.  They learned how to use the photos and write about them.   We also made End of the Year Memory Book E-Readers, as well as, Life Cycle of Butterfly E-Readers.

Click on the links below to view a couple of sample E-Readers from this field trip.

If you have done something similar with your students please click on the comments and share your ideas!

Dallas Heritage Village Aden

Dallas Heritage Village Shelby