Digital Device + Free Texts = Reading All Summer Long by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

When we read the Pew Research Center’s report about access to digital information, it confirmed the work we are doing with digital reading.  Although many students may not have easy access to actual books at home, based on these statistics, they probably have access to a digital device. Devices can give students more reading choices, and let’s face it, many of our students love devices.


Each spring we collaborate with teachers to help students include digital resources in their TBR stacks for summer reading.  We show them how to include lists of websites to expand the types of texts in their TBR stack.  Here are some ways we set students up to use digital devices to access texts over the summer:


  • We share our digital reading life to show students how to expand what they read online.
  • We teach them how to navigate specific websites to find texts about topics of interest and books they want to read.
  • We give students time to explore digital resources at school, so they will be comfortable making them a part of their daily reading life.
  • We show them how to access free digital texts through the library and other websites.


Once our students are feeling comfortable at school, we encourage them to start using them at home to read.  Students need time to experiment with digital reading at home while teachers are still available to help them trouble shoot. This also gives families and caregivers time to learn about these digital opportunities so that they can support their children in accessing particular sites, encourage them to read online, and help them work out any kinks with the technology.  The sooner students begin making digital reading a part of students’ daily lives, the more texts students will be able to access over the summer.


If you are looking for resources to share with your students, here are ten free digital resources students can access to read all summer long:


  1. Storyline Online: Artists from the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists read stories aloud.


  1. Open eBooks: Michele Obama and the Obama White House launched this app to give students and educators access to free books.


  1. Wonderopolis: If you have students who love reading informational texts, introduce them to Wonderopolis. Each day Wonderopolis posts and answers a new question. Readers can search by topic or explore the question of the day.


  1. Just Books Read Aloud: Alma College shares over eight hundred videos of stories being read aloud. You can sort by author, narrator, reading level, language, and topic.


  1. The Poem Farm: The Poem Farm is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s website and is filled with poems for students to read. Readers can sort by topic or technique to find poems they love.


  1. Dogonews: This site is loaded with articles and videos about current events, sports, and human-interest stories.


  1. Sports Illustrated Kids: Do you have sports fans in your classroom? On this site, students can read about favorite sports and sports teams.


  1. Readworks: When the classroom sets up an account, students have access to so many texts are a variety of topics and interests.


  1. International Children’s Digital Library: Looking for texts from around the world and texts written in a variety of languages? On this site, students can search for books by author, topic, and even country.


  1. YOUR Local Public Library: Don’t miss the digital reading opportunities available at your local public library. So many children’s libraries now give students ways to borrow eBooks and digital audio books without leaving their house. Just look at the digital public libraries available in the United States.


We have had such fun exploring these sites with teachers and students. Each September we look forward to hearing how students accessed digital texts throughout the summer and to adding new websites they discovered to our TBR stack. It’s not too late to introduce your students to these resources.  Perhaps by expanding our students’ digital reading lives, we can say goodbye to the “summer slide.”


Happy Summer Reading!


Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan are staff developers who are still teachers at heart. Their newest book, It’s All About the Books, is filled with ways to get more texts into the hands of readers. You can find them on Twitter as @ClareandTammy and online at where they blog about books and the art of teaching.