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I recently came across a very long (600+!) list of free children’s books online, compiled by Gizmo’s Freeware. I’m frequently asked about resources like this, so I decided to take a closer look at a few of the offerings.

Aaron Shephard’s World of Stories (opens in a new window) caught my attention first; I’ve used his Reader’s Theater (RT) resources for years, and recommend the site frequently to teachers or parents looking for scripts. In the World of Stories, Shephard provides the theme, age level, and length for books across 11 genre. Stories are text only, no illustrations. Some stories have extras like posters and audio files. These resources are great for RT, as well as for when you need text to use for running records or other assessment. No readability information provided.

Children’s Books Forever (opens in a new window) is a quirky collection of free picture books written (mostly) by Hans Wilhelm that you can use on a Smartboard, PPT, or a computer monitor. The illustrations are charming and seem just right for beginning readers. If you decide to browse the collection, I particularly liked the Waldo book and the Ten Little Bunnies story. There’s a series about Tyrone the bully that I didn’t like much at all — the solution to a bully was a hot pepper sandwich! However, the Waldo humor books (opens in a new window) is a series of illustrations-only books. These illustrations could be used as story starters for children’s own writing.

Kindersite (opens in a new window) has a collection of stories of various sites — the BBC, Starfall, Sesame Workshop, and others. The book experience depends on which title you choose. Mox’s Shop from Starfall provides a very explicit reading (phoneme by phoneme) of the words in a very simple story. Julia and the Big Wave from RIF is a longer story accompanied by Flash illustrations. All books are for the younger set (age 2-8).

As with all material to be used with young readers, I recommend previewing a site and the stories carefully before using it with kids.

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
July 13, 2011