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Use Technology to Build Reading Skills

According to 
commonsensemedia.org, reading rates are falling, and the proportion of those who “ ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ read tripled from 1984 to 2014.”  One strategy to help encourage reading is to “discover pockets of reading” by encouraging kids to read what interests them.  Having students work on a project requiring computer and Internet use is one of the best ways to get students to “read in pockets” as they surf through a vast highway of information before settling on usable data. There are a number of online reading sites, many free and accessible with your local library card, they include:

  • Storyline Online

    Developed by The Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online features accomplished actors and actresses reading some of their favorite children’s books.  Each story comes with a free Activity Guide and can be viewed on YouTube or SchoolTube.  Rainbow FishWilfrid Gordon Macdonald Partridge, and To Be a Drum are just a few of the books available.


  • We Give Books
    A Pearson Foundation - Social awareness is the Pearson initiative. Each book that is read results in a book that is donated to a charity for children.  While the books are not read aloud, they allow students to practice “Read to Self” with a good fit book during center time. 


  • Storynory
    Storynory features a collection of original, fairytale, and classic children’s audio stories.  Students can follow along with the story as it is read to them, as the text is also included on the site. 


  • ABCya!

    Children can listen to short stories read aloud to them as they follow along with the highlighted text.  ABCya! has a variety of educational games in addition to the featured stories.  Free resources and materials are available for grades K through 5.

  • Starfall
    While some areas of Starfall are part of their premium service, they have many early reader stories available for free.  Students can follow along as the story is read to them and can, in some instances, help create their own story.  Geared for the younger readers. 



  • Online Storytime by Barnes and Noble

  • http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/online-storytime-books-toys/379003588/
    Barnes and Noble’s Online Storytime has popular children’s books read out loud. This free site is perfect for “Listen to Reading” centers.


  • TumbleBooks
    TumbleBooks is a pay-for-use site that traditionally sells licenses to libraries and schools.  Many public libraries offer free access to their TumbleBooks account.  Students can follow along as the text is read them to help improve comprehension and fluency.  Choose from picture books to chapter books.  Portland Public Library also has free access to TumbleBookCloud which gives access to Middle and High School level books.




  • Read to Me
    Similar to Storyline Online, Read to Me features popular children’s books being read by famous performers.  There are activity guides with hands-on ideas, discussion questions, and lesson plans that can easily be adapted to the Common Core State Standards.  Entirely free!! 

  • International Children’s Digital Libraryhttp://en.childrenslibrary.org/
    Discover books from around the world at the International Children’s Digital Library.  The free site does not read the books aloud, but students can read them independently during Read to Self or free time.  Perfect for learning about cultures and regions from around the globe!