Tuesday, January 16, 2007

free books!

Well, sort of. The commercial website Reading A-Z offers hundreds of downloadable children's books in English, and dozens of books in French and Spanish, with black line drawings; you print them out, cut the pages in half, and then staple them together. The books progress in difficulty (with the levels clearly stated) and include both fiction and nonfiction. Some of the easier English books are drawn from the high-frequency word list. You can access and print about 30 sample books for free (including a couple in French and Spanish); a year-long membership is about $80. (Districts can also purchase memberships that allow access to all their teachers.) And since the pictures are in black and white, children consider them as fun as coloring books! I'm not a member--but I'm tempted to pay the money if I get more young tutoring clients and/or when my nephew pays more attention to the pictures and the story than to how the book tastes! (He could get some nasty paper cuts from these at this point, given the way he handles reading material.) At any rate, it seems like a fantastic resource, especially for those of you raising your kids with English in a non-anglophone country where books in English are hard to come by. (And those who aren't, well, you can always translate the books yourself, either writing the target language on the same page as the English or whiting-out the English entirely.)

Has anyone out there used materials from Reading A-Z? Can you tell us if the $80 is worth it? (I'm personally particularly curious about the ones in French.) Let us know, too, if you have any other sites with downloadable kids' books to suggest!


  1. Yes, I have seen this site before and love it! I haven't paid yet either since we don't really need more books in English. However, since we want to start doing some French (thus my email to you) and some Spanish, I think we might go for it. Also, the English ones might help since my oldest is learning to read in both languages.

    We have been working on some coloring books for our BBFN site but, sigh, everything takes time when it is all volunteer work. :-) One of these days, one of these days.

    Now that I am on blogger, I am going to try and keep a closer eye on your blog!!

  2. Thanks for the link. It might come in use one day, so I book marked it.

    We went back to the UK for a few days over Christmas, so I recuperated a few of my old childhood books stored in my Mum's attic.

    In particular I was pleased to find some books by Richard Scarry - these are useful for English vocab in that they use nice illustrations of a setting using animal characters. Each object in a setting is illustrated with the name next to it. For example "In the kitchen" might have a food mixer there.

    I used to love those books - mine need a bit of a repair though as they were loved a little too much. :)

  3. Here's a link to downloadable kids' books in Spanish: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/themes/spanish.shtml