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Best Websites for Independent Reading

There's no question that reading is essential to learning, and is 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: Leading to Reading

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.

Ready to Learn Reading

Vast assortment of activities encourage reading and storytelling

Bottom line: A great variety of activities to inspire and develop reading and story building skills, but navigation is tricky.

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

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary School

Thorough lesson plans help teachers utilize an amazing digital library

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

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.

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary

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.

Bookopolis

Cute social network lets kids log books and connect with other readers

Bottom line: Kids-only social network gives students a safe space to connect, allows students to showcase and share their reading progress.

Universal Reader Plus

Text reader and summarizer with translation for eight languages

Bottom line: Software for struggling readers supports comprehension and also includes a translator.

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.

Newsela

Absorbing daily news stories offer kids just-right learning content

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet students right at their level: Use this robust tool to bolster students' nonfiction reading practice.

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.

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.

StudySync

Superb ELA resource has comprehensive coverage, tons of supports

Bottom line: StudySync offers a complete core literacy program for secondary schools, making it easy to recommend, especially for teachers new to digital platforms.

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.

Actively Learn

Empowering social ereader keeps kids actively, independently engaged

Bottom line: Far beyond the average ereader, 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.

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.

LitPick

Tweens' reviews of YA literature great for classroom use

Bottom line: LitPick is a safe, fun environment for YA lovers to read their favorite books while learning how to discuss literature.

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.

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.

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.

Teen Ink

Get kids writing, publishing, critiquing in this valuable network

Bottom line: Teens will find a wealth of information and many opportunities to further interest in writing and the creative arts.

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