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Reading On: Free Resources for Virtual Learning

Morgan Ratner
 | May 15, 2020

Smiling girl at table in front of laptopWith schools looking at long-term closures because of coronavirus (COVID-19), ensuring that students can make the most of their studies at home is more important than ever.

The literacy and learning communities are well-equipped to help make online learning easier. In addition to ILA’s resources (including our tips for connecting with readers online and using web tools to communicate), an outpouring of support across industries has resulted in free assets educators and families and caregivers can use to engage their readers remotely.

Below, you’ll find a handful of the many offerings at your disposal during this uncertain time. We might be forced apart, but these resources ensure that we can all continue to learn together.

Access to Books and Literacy Instruction

  • Wondering which books your students or children might enjoy? Check our Choices reading lists to find their next read (or 10). Each year, thousands of children, teens, and educators around the United States select their favorite recently published books. Use these lists to help your readers connect with comforting stories and find their next page-turner.
  • With a free ReadWorks account, educators and parents can find web series, video tutorials, and support groups to help with reading comprehension.
  • When physical books are unavailable, audiobooks save the day. For as long as schools are closed, Audible will open up its digital library, allowing children to stream a wide collection of stories across a number of languages.
  • Teachers and homeschool educators can get a free one-year subscription to Vooks, a library of read-aloud animated storybooks.
  • Keep kids reading with Epic!, a digital library for kids 12 and under. Families can receive 30 days of free access while educators can join the platform free through June 30.
  • Until the end of June, Amazon Kindle Unlimited is offering free access to more than one million titles, for all ages and across all genres.
  • Sync provides free audiobooks to readers 13 and older, with new titles featured weekly for a one-week borrow through the summer.

Community Resources and Library Programs

  • Who said you need to travel the globe to see great art? Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 2,500 museums to bring the masterpieces of artists like Van Gogh and Monet right to your living room. Talk about a virtual field trip!
  • If you’re looking to help your child or students understand the coronavirus pandemic, look to News-O-Matic, a daily virtual newspaper designed for kids. Young readers can experience the world while building media literacy skills and broadening their horizons. Teachers can receive free access until June 30.
  • Throughout the United States, now-closed libraries, such as the New York Public Library and DC Public Library, are offering library card access through digital apps and websites. Check your local library website to see what offers are available.

Open Access Publisher Content

  • Macmillan’s trade division is offering free online resources, including downloadable activity kits, audio content, and book-specific teaching guides, while the education arm is sharing webinars and opening up their digital tools.
  • Scholastic’s Learn at Home program includes grade-appropriate projects and events, like virtual book fests, to keep children curious and engaged.
  • Harper at Home from HarperCollins is offering daily read-alouds, author appearances, and book clubs for the whole family to enjoy.

Morgan Ratner is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY.

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