Teachers might see the Internet as the enemy of old-fashioned books, but the two entities can actually compliment each other nicely. Websites devoted to reading and literacy help children connect with other readers, delve deeper into what they are reading, and discover new books of interest. And they provide teachers with ideas for the classroom. Your students could start an online book group, write reviews on a website, or use Internet tools to research a favorite author. We’ve gathered ten of the best free, reading-related websites to inspire you and your young readers.
Goodreads is the largest reading site on the web and a great tool for high school students. Students can keep track of the books that they are reading and see what their friends are reading. Goodreads will recommend books based on what a reader has enjoyed in the past, and teens can keep a list of what they want to read. Note that kids must be at least 13 to use the site.
Teachers can create a private group for their class to discuss books or make book-related quizzes for their students. Some students feel more comfortable sharing online than sharing in class, and reading becomes a more dynamic experience when students can exchange views with their classmates. Assign students to write a book review on the site or to create their own quiz for something they have read.
BiblioNasium has many features similar to Goodreads but is made for younger readers. Students can keep track of how long the read each day, which books they have read, and which books they want to read. They can also see what their friends are reading. Users can search for books by reading level, genre, and author.
BiblioNasium is a great resource for motivating students to read. You can use the site to send reading challenges to students or their parents. Teachers use the site to challenge students to read books from a new genre or to increase the time they spend reading. To raise the stakes, you can set up a contest between classes to see which can read more books.
Scholastic’s Book Wizard site is a comprehensive resource for both teachers and students, alike. It provides book lists by subject and grade, book reviews, and suggest student activities and lesson plans for books. Students can peruse the author section to learn how their favorite writers and illustrators began their careers.
The Book Wizard search feature is fantastic for teachers and librarians. Enter a book title, and the site provides the reading level, synopsis, author biography, and links to free resources. You can also enter a title to search for similar books that are easier or more advanced. Pass along the website to parents to help them find books appropriate for their kids.
Use this site to find books, quiz students, and reward reluctant readers. Students from kindergarten to 8th grade can take quizzes for books they have read, and teachers and parents can view the results. Kids earn points toward a prize when they answer the questions correctly. Teachers can track how many books their students have read and how they have done on quizzes.
The book lists at Common Sense Media might be the most teacher-friendly available. From a list for reluctant readers to a list of ghost stories, Common Sense Media chooses high-quality books and offers a guide to age-appropriateness. You can click on books within a list to get more information, including a synopsis and discussion points. Use the site’s review section to keep on top of high-quality new books.
The site for this national literacy initiative is packed with ideas for reaching every child in your class. In the Children’s Books & Authors section, the literacy calendar offers a list of holidays and reading celebrations with links to related books, classroom activities, educational websites, and author interviews. The author interview videos are engaging, with children’s favorite writers sharing stories of their own childhood experiences.
An offshoot of Reading Rockets, this site was created to promote summertime reading, but it’s helpful for teachers year-round. The content is designed for elementary school children and organized around 24 themes, such as dinosaurs, the night sky, and art.
You can use the site to turn a read-aloud into a lesson that includes science and history content. Each themed section includes a list of books, related websites, and links to hands-on activities. Look for writing ideas, too. The themes include dinosaurs, art, cooking, and the night sky. This is a great resource to pass along to parents for school breaks and summer vacation.
If you’re in need of inspiration, this site has a bit of everything. Find reading lists by grade level and subject. There are thousands of worksheets and activities, some of them tied to particular books. And the site recently added interactive books, which young readers can listen to or read themselves. Add this resource to your audio center to encourage independent reading in young students.
Author and educator Jim Trelease keeps an online trove of information that’s ideal for teachers and librarians. Click on the “Book Lists” link for a collection of great read-aloud books. The lists include fairy tales, picture books, novels, and poetry, and the site provides grade ranges and page length. This site is great for collecting books around a topic. Display the different titles in your classroom library.
Censorship is a topic that engages reluctant teen readers. This site discusses banned books and the First Amendment, and it provides lists of the most-challenged books. Have students read a book from the list and then write their own defense or challenge of the book.
These websites provide the essentials that students need, such as help finding books of interest and quizzes to aid with recall. But they also connect readers and books to the wider world. Online reviews and discussion boards provide students with new ways of looking at a story. And classroom crafts and research projects help students connect literature to history, science, and the arts. So you can help students recognize that turning the last page of a book is only the start of learning.