Common Sense

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Best Websites for Independent Reading

There's no question that reading is essential to learning, and crucial to social and emotional development and engaged citizenship. Students who read more accelerate their acquisition of literacy skills and unlock new levels of potential in all of their classes. All too often, however, our students see reading as a chore, something deeply intertwined with school requirements rather than personal interests and passions. Help students, through in-class and at-home independent reading, to read on their own terms about subjects they care about with these terrific tech tools that put students in control, and let them discover new authors, genres, and books; dig into current news and stories; and practice reading in authentic contexts.

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Reading is Fundamental

Teachers and kids explore the wonderful world of reading together

Bottom line: This delightful collection of online books, activities, games, and songs for the preschool set works best when shared with a grown-up.

HOMER Stories: Kids Library

Entertaining stories offer handy extensions to HOMER Reading

Bottom line: This versatile, story-based companion app to HOMER Reading connects kids to the written word and shines best as a supplement.

StoryWorld

ELL-friendly reading program gives students support, independence

Bottom line: This is a good specialized program for small-group instruction, especially for ELLs, with a great teacher dashboard and a pedagogical approach informed by research.

Storyline Online

Notable actors' read alouds bring kids' storybooks to life

Bottom line: Kids can experience the magic of books; though even better when accompanied by the site's extensions for further activities and reading

Bookshare

Unique digital library gives access to those with print disabilities

Bottom line: This fantastic digital library service provides a powerful sense of independence for students with print-related disabilities.

Skybrary for School

Thorough lesson plans help teachers utilize an amazing digital library

Bottom line: Though it could use some updates, Skybrary for School has a set of top-quality resources with great value worth checking out.

Skybrary – Kids Books & Videos

Kids can "go anywhere, be anything" with vast book and video library

Bottom line: Wonderful and practical way to get kids excited about learning and reading -- the greatness of the classic TV series, updated for the 21st century.

ReadingIQ

Great looking, free library has a reasonable diversity of titles

Bottom line: This is a reading app that focuses primarily -- and successfully -- on the reading; don't expect many bells and whistles though.

Common Sense Selection

Epic! - Kids' Books and Videos

Free, expansive digital library unlocks treasure trove of books

Bottom line: This large collection of books and videos on a wide variety of topics is an easy -- and free -- enhancement to any classroom library.

Biblionasium

Site for reviewing and sharing books makes reading a social adventure

Bottom line: This safe, simple social network lets kids share their reading success with friends, creating healthy competition and confidence.

Common Sense Selection

Newsela

Great stories, just-right leveled reading; now mostly by subscription

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles will meet students right at their level, and help teachers bolster students' nonfiction reading skills.

Harry Potter Reading Club

The fun and fantasy of Harry's world plus literary discussion

Bottom line: With activities, discussion questions, and lots of free access to the books, this site is a great place for Harry Potter fans new and old.

Accelerated Reader 360

Boundless, flexible tools promote instructional, independent reading

Bottom line: A stellar literacy platform for assessing student reading levels and promoting further reading.

ThinkCERCA

Well-structured lessons encourage deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom line: This is a ready-to-go, research-backed resource that focuses intently on CCSS-aligned and AP-level critical reading and writing skills.

Readorium

Science and reading come together in aging but effective platform

Bottom line: There's not much out there that focuses specifically on reading science texts, so if your students can get past the dated design, this could be a handy tool to turn to.

Whooo's Reading

Innovative take on independent reading ditches multiple-choice quizzes

Bottom line: A convenient, well-intentioned tool for supporting a quality, interest-driven independent reading program, but make sure to tweak the auto-generated scores and questions.

BeeLine Reader

A surprisingly simple tool to improve reading

Bottom line: This is a unique, easy-to-implement reading fluency and comprehension aid that's gaining some evidence of effectiveness.

Actively Learn

Empowering reader keeps kids actively, independently engaged

Bottom line: Far beyond the average e-reader, this tool helps students connect and stay engaged while teachers easily measure progress.

Folger Shakespeare Library

Teacher's resource digs deep into the Bard's work

Bottom line: As an educator resource, teachers can deepen their understanding and appreciation of both classic and lesser-known works; the activities and multimedia can help students engage with the texts.

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

Wildly engaging contest turns students into novelists in 30 days

Bottom line: A thoughtful adaptation of the famous and fun grown-up novel writing contest, NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is brimming with advice and encouragement as well as classroom support.

LitPick

YA review site gives students a real-world, although ad-driven, outlet

Bottom line: LitPick is a decent place for YA lovers to discover and discuss books, but the site is in need of a refresh and features a lot of promotion/ads.

Amplify Reading 6-8

Supplemental reading program puts sci-fi twist on core ELA concepts

Bottom line: This is a creative, thoughtfully built program that, while a bit contrived, could slot well into many classrooms with some scaffolding.

Literal

You've never seen literature like this (and your students might just love it)

Bottom line: A compelling twist on classic lit that could be a great tool to get students interested in reading classic literature.

Poets.org

Vast array of poets and poems; on the serious side

Bottom line: Great, if slightly serious, resource for young poetry lovers to explore and gather inspiration.

StudySync

Superb ELA resource features engaging activities, stellar support

Bottom line: An exceptional, ever-growing resource for helping your students become close readers, careful writers, and critical thinkers.

After the Storm

Engaging ELA game makes you the editor of your local newspaper

Bottom line: An excellent way to target practice with most middle schoolers.

Goodreads

Lively community for bookworms to share their love of lit

Bottom line: Using Goodreads can enhance teens' reading experience and help them become thoughtful, enthusiastic readers.

YR Media

Dynamic site harnesses creative young talent to speak truth to power

Bottom line: This fresh and socially aware website will draw students in with catchy -- often controversial -- topics, but keep them there with quality content.

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