The research couldn’t be more clear: to grow readers, we need to get them reading…a lot! And to get them reading, they MUST.HAVE.BOOKS! In his seminal book on the effects of free voluntary reading, The Power of Reading, Stephen Krashen says this about access: “It is certainly true that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. But first we must make sure the water is there. And when it is, horses always eventually drink.” He goes on to explain that the same is true for readers and books. You can read a great excerpt from his book here.
Most of us know this is true, which is why we go to great lengths (often at our own expense) to acquire books for our classroom libraries and why we spend our summers organizing them in ways that entice our students to fall in love with them. Sadly, our classroom libraries are now gathering dust as we wait out the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether I am leading staff development for teachers or teaching children in a classroom, I always say that I bring my “friends” (my books) to help me teach. Being away from our classrooms means we are also away from some of our best friends–our books.
So if these two facts are true: 1) readers need access to quality books and 2) physical access to books is limited right now, then we need alternatives, right?
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are a few resources I have curated that we can share with families to help keep their children (and themselves!) supplied with engaging FREE reading materials.
Above all, we need to continue to emphasize to parents that one of the most important and powerful things their children can be doing right now is building an incredibly strong reading life at home. You can access our Distance Learning Mini-Unit for Building Reading Lives at Home here.
Resources for Free Access to Reading Material During the Pandemic
Unite for Literacy
Pioneer Valley Bookbuilder Online
These two resources are websites/apps that can be linked to your public library to access free ebooks, audiobooks, videos, and music all the time (not just during this time of crisis):
Don’t forget about your own reading life!
Many of the resources above have adult reads, so be sure to treat yourself to some great stories, too.
Want to do a little professional reading but don’t have as much time now as you thought you would have? Heinemann has opened up their audio library, so you can listen to one of your favorite professional authors to get some inspiration: