Three Options for Independent Reading on the iPad

Primary teachers (and in fact all teachers) are always on the look out for quality reading options for their students.  This is true for digital format books as well as more traditional book forms. When my six and seven-year old students read independently on their iPads, I want to offer them good options as well. Fortunately, I have found three worthwhile options for my six and seven year olds.

Epic! Books

After seeing a post by Joyce Valenza about Epic Books, I knew that I had to see if it was really as good as it looked. Was it? Actually, it’s even better.

Epic! is an app  that has thousands of books for all age levels, but I can tell you first hand that it has hundreds of excellent books for primary teachers. If you register online as an educator before you sign into the app, your account is free and you are able to view all of their books.

There are several categories of books, including some excellent non-fiction books under topics such as sports and living things. There is even a large selection of  “Read to Me” books that are read aloud in video format.

I knew that I wanted Epic! for my students as well, but could see no plan for classrooms on their website, so I emailed to ask about their policy.  Suren Markosian replied for the company that teachers are free to log into multiple student iPads with their teacher account as long as the iPads belong to the school and they stay at the school.

My students and I tried out the app with twenty of us logged in at once to see if there would be any issues, but there were none, even when we all read the same book at the same time. (It was definitely my idea to try that. I wanted to see what would happen, but the students were much more interested in reading the books that interested them.)

This app has tremendous potential for classrooms and I highly recommend it.

Unite for Literacy

My next choice is not actually an app, but a website that I’ve mentioned on this blog before.  Unite for Literacy features over one hundred beginning level books for emergent readers. Each page of each book gives the option of hearing the text on that page read aloud if students become stuck on a word.

I use the Add to Home Screen option on the iPad to create a direct link to Unite for Literacy on each student iPad. Then, I add that icon to the Read to Self folder. Another option for my budding readers.

Kindle

I wrote a blog post a while ago explaining how I use the Kindle app with the multiple iPads in my classroom. The short version of that post is that I have several Amazon accounts—one account for each five iPads. I watch for good books to go free on One Hundred Free Books and then buy copies for each account. Not all books that go free are of good quality, so I generally read the books first on my own account to check their suitability.

Three great options to allow my primary students to have lots of choice for their digital reading.

15 thoughts on “Three Options for Independent Reading on the iPad

  1. I checked the website One Hundred Free Books. It would only let me download a book for free with Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited has a monthly fee and I don’t have a subscription. Is there some way to download books for free?

    1. Hmm. I don’t know why that is happening to you. I just tried it again and it worked for me. Go to http://ohfb.com/index.html , click on Free Books and then choose the genre you want. Click on the book cover and then the “See Book on Amazon” link. There, you should be able to choose “Buy Now with One Click”.

  2. Hi Mrs. Cassidy! Once again, I am blown away at the creativity in your use of resources! These are all great ways to have a number of quality books available to the students with little to no need of a budget. Another great resource is the website freekidsbooks.org. They have a ton of kids books available and most can be read aloud as long as you have the audiobook app and the books can be downloaded as a pdf or you can read it online!

    @92Tehudson

  3. Hello Mrs. Cassidy! My name is Hollie Faulkner and I am a student in EDM 310 at The University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading this post and I’m looking forward to reading more from your blog! I had never heard of Epic! or Unite for Literacy before. It is exciting to learn about these types of resources that I will be able to use in my future classroom!

  4. Hello Mrs. Cassidy, my name is Kelia Fagan. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I enjoyed your post immensely. I have never heard of Epic. However, using Kindle and other technologies and products to help improve the reading capabilities of children is remarkable. I have learned about numerous technologies that can greatly improve the outcome of students’ performances in my future classrooms. This is all thanks to the great roles models like yourself I have come across through this class and its projects.

    Thank you for your time,
    Kelia Fagan

  5. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile studying to be an elementary teacher. I really enjoyed this post. It has great information and resources that I could use in my future classroom when I begin teaching. I hope I will have the opportunity to incorporate at least one of these into my curriculum down the road.

    Katie Jester’s EDM 310 Blog

  6. The Epic app and the Unite for Life website are real game changes for our beginning readers. I especially like the Epic non-fiction books. We can make sure that our struggling readers are given research topics that have books that can be read to them. Our primary teachers are now loyal followers of your blog! Thanks

  7. Hello Mrs. Cassidy, my name is Erika Valencia. I am a student in EDU 586 (Technology Level II) at Concordia University- Irvine (near Los Angeles, Ca.). I must say that your post is greatly appreciated. It is wonderful to know about all these free resources that our students can benefit from. As a new teacher, I am always exploring for new resources/tools, especially if they are as interactive as Epic Books. The best part is that students can select the theme/genre they desire to read. The audio can come in handy as well. In my school district we have students take comprehension test using the Scholastic Reading Counts. However, students don’t have my options as they do with Epic. I plan on using this app as an extension and as a way to monitor their reading. I also plan on introducing Unite for Literacy. This will serve as a digital tool for our emergent readers. I know that my colleagues and parents will appreciate it too. Thank you once again and I am looking forward to hear from you!
    Erika Valencia

  8. Hi, Mrs. Cassidy, my name is Christine Rice. I am currently a student at Concordia University in the Educational Technology program. I am new to teaching English and found this blog post to be very interesting and useful. At my school, we are encouraged to have our students read about 10 chapter books throughout the year, on top of the four core books we read together as a class. These ten books can be whatever the students want to read. It is their choice. I can easily see my students and me using the Epic app. They could use this app to locate/explore books that interest them. I find it can be challenging to motivate students to read on their own and the fact that this app will help motivate students to read something that interests them seems like the perfect tool to add to my classroom.

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