We Give Books is a website that works to promote literacy around the world. The more people read books for free on their website, the more books they donate to schools and communities. You have to set up a username and password, but it is free and I have never received any kind of junk mail from them. Their books are divided into age group, genre, author, etc., and they have a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction for children up to age 10 or so. Great cause, great books, all free.
Children’s Storybooks Online has “illustrated children’s stories for kids of all ages.” The selection of books on this website is not large, but the quality is good, both of writing and illustration. The stories are broken into three categories: young children, older children, and young adults. It is free to read the stories on this site and there is no need to create an account. There are some flashing advertisements, but not too hard to ignore, and you can’t view the books in full screen as you’re reading them. Other than that, I have no complaints.
This is an Australian website with quite a variety of very short stories for nearly independent readers. There is no requirement to create an account or log on, there are no advertisements, and there are no bells and whistles. You get lots of completely free illustrated stories, that’s it. In some ways, this is a very “get what you pay for” kind of a site. But on the other hand, it saves you the trouble of investing money and bookshelf space in the “Spot Can Run” variety of books that are obsolete the moment your reader becomes truly independent. Go to myonlinereading.com to check it out, and click here to see my full review of the site.
I found a few books online at curiousgeorge.com when I was doing a search for Halloween stories. This website doesn’t have many stories on it. I’m guessing they have seasonal specials published by the same company as Curious George (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), but mostly stories about the little monkey himself. This is a good website, totally free. When you click on the story, it automatically starts reading to you and highlighting the words as they are read, with the pages turning automatically. The recordings are really good quality with some fun sound effects, and you can stop them if you want to read it yourself, but the recording starts again as soon as you click to turn the page. I don’t like that. It’s nice to have a function that lets the book read to your child, but when I turn it off, I prefer it to stay off. Also, I wish there was an option to view the book full screen. But those are the only two things I would change. This is a great site- not a ton of options, but free and great quality.
This website, starfall.com, is really a ‘learn to read’ site, and not a simple database of stories like I usually review. It is a very professional, well-established teaching aid for all subjects, but you need to have a membership and pay fees to access the full array of tools, games, and activities available. If you go to the main homepage and stick to the 4 main categories (marked, conveniently, 1, 2, 3, 4) everything is free, but it is the same professional quality as the rest of the site. The 4 categories of stories are divided by reading level, starting at beginning phonics for kids still learning their ABCs (not really stories, more activities), gradually progressing in difficulty and ending with longer books with varied vocabulary and a variety of interesting topics. These highest level stories are still for very early readers- kindergarten and first grade. There is a lot of repetition, few words on each page, animated illustration to hold kids’ attention. If you want to read my full review, click here.
The Friend magazine is published monthly by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church). It is available in print for a small fee, but the contents are available online for free all the way back to the 1971 issues. There are stories and poems, coloring pages and songs, recipes and family activity ideas. Some things are pretty specifically Mormon in doctrine and message. Others are more in the generically inspirational category. There are some great finds, and you can search by keyword to find articles on specific topics. In my opinion, The Friend is an especially great holiday resource. The only downside is that the stories’ illustrations are only available for the current year’s issues. The cartoons and some of the activities still have their illustrations in the back issues, but not the stories. I would still totally recommend it, especially for early independent readers, and it’s free.
I wanted to share this lovely little website I found called Northpole.com. It’s not about the deeper meaning of Christmas or anything, it’s just a bit of fun and lots of free stories. The main website is a little map of Santa’s Secret Village, and you can click on each of the buildings to get an inside look at what’s going on there. There’s Santa’s workshop, Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, the Reindeer Barn, the Weather Station, and lots more. Each building has fun little animations and special effects and links to music, games, puzzles, and illustrated STORIES! The stories can be read to you or you can read them yourself. They are nothing deep or spiritual, just fun little stories, and they’re free! So if your kids are driving you crazy, they’re bored with they’re new toys already, and you want something to keep them busy for awhile where they might actually read, mosey on along to Northpole.com.