Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Reading Materials for Free!

I am not always lucky enough to have books with me
I don't have a bookshelf that travels with me from location to location, but I always try to give my students varied reading choices regardless of the empty shelves! I can have access to so many stories with the click of a mouse.

Magazines, blogs and newspapers are all an awesome source of reading materials, but sometimes it is nice to have something a bit more permanent. When you change age groups as much as I did it is nice to know that there are some free reading sources you can legally get (I can't very well discipline at students for plagiarizing if I don't keep to the same moral code)! Following is a quick non-comprehensive list of sites I have found helpful for reading materials.

If you teach the younger crowd check out WeGiveBooks. I would have KILLED to have known about this site when I was teaching pre-school and kindergarten (or even when I au-paired in the Netherlands). In addition to free e-books (many of them popular children's books not just similar characters doing similar things) when you finish reading a book you can click to donate a book! As a San Diego girl I LOVE that the San Diego Padres are behind this. How great is that?! They also have resources for teachers (everyone from pre-school to 12th grade!) So to summarize, you get free books, you get to help out people who also need free books, AND the Padres rock :) 

  • Wily Writers is a place I have found some great short stories. My favorite part is that you can normally contact the authors to let them know that you are using their story. Sometimes they will answer questions from your students, other times you can set up a skype date. If nothing else you can have students e-mail them a thank you. For example I was lucky enough to find Jess Hartley who has written some great short stories we used in my class and was kind enough to chat with my students! More on that here. They also quite often have the audio version of the story.
  • Free-e-books well with a name like this there isn't much left to the imagination. With a bigger focus on newer e-books this site is a nice way to find some modern examples of English for students to read.They have "educational" books, general non fictionhumor, short stories, and young adult. With so many options there has to be something that works for you.
  • NEW (added 6/16) Smashwords is a site I was just introduced to and it is AWESOME. It has books for sale as well as freebies. They seem to add new books every day for a constant supply of good reads.
  • NEW (added 3/15/2013Flip Builder  is a cute java site that has people actually "turning" pages. Not everything is free but the collection for little ones is pretty cute!
Made for Teachers
  • ESLMonkeys is a great site as well! A lot of the books are resource books, and there are a bunch of dead links but there's also some great interactive reading sites linked (Ghost Forest has a trailer to entice you into reading more.) ESLMonkeys also links to a short story by Robert Norris who in addition to selling his story as an e-book, a podcast and in print offers it to teachers and students for free online! The Many Roads to Japan: A Search for Identity is about John Banks and how he ends up in Japan. Basically the site has tons of fun free stories that English Language learners are sure to find interesting.
  • ELCivics isn't my favorite but for newer teachers who aren't comfortable enough working with authentic materials it offers 3 easy to use books with quick short stories and comprehension questions. It looks like it is designed for lower intermediate adults, but it is definitely worth a look.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers has 2,972 Guided Reading worksheets right now. 349 of which are free! They have every age level up to worksheets for adults. Similar to BusyTeacher these often contain built in activities as well! If you don't already have an account you can go straight to their sign-up page here
  • BusyTeacher Many teachers share not only worksheets but graded readers, short stories, magazine articles, etc. Often they even include activities. 

Most of these you can access with any normal computer, however I know that reading tablets are all the rage now. My friend has a kindle and swears by it so you may want to consider the investment.

Where do you go to find reading? Do you use more magazines and articles or do you prefer books?


  1. Great list! I hadn't heard of some of these places....I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers! Thanks for including me :) Karen (Karenzo Media)

    1. Thanks for the perfect timing! Glad I read about you when I did :)

  2. Hello Carissa. I wrote it once before, and I'll write it again.

    "God Bless the child that has its own"

    One question if you don't mind? Who was your mentor?

    If you tell me who, I will explain to you on site why I asked this.

  3. Excellent commentary. thank you.

    Would you have an interest and or resources relevant to the pedagogy of Middle Eastern students that you could share or refer? In just 5 years I have seen more students studying at our Florida State University Center for Intensive English Studies, however, a growing proportion are more interested in Western culture than preparing for class. I fear this is impart a consequence of my (our) less rigorous teaching methods. When independent variables such as financing from family sources, are paired with younger age, (though a small sample size) a growing proportion of men and women from the Middle East and perhaps Asia, view their educational experience in a secondary light. When compared with students who are representing their government or educational institution there is a marked difference in class attendance, preparation and taking advantage of extra curricular learning activities. All comments welcome and again my appreciation and admiration to all in this essential profession.

    1. I am not sure in this case it is particular to Middle Eastern Students. Are these students who are studying abroad? I think many more students are finding themselves studying English longer, and as a result don't take the study of it as seriously because they can already communicate informally (or in emergency situations).


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