Free resources are always a teacher’s dream, but when it comes to free sites to use during reading instruction the choices can be few and far between. Whether you are looking for a site to use during the Daily 5’s “Listen to Reading” time or want to provide students with a fun early-finisher activity, the sites below are ideal.
Designed for elementary age students, these reading sites are both free and kid-friendly. We hope you find this article and the free resources in contains helpful!
As always, it is strongly recommended that teachers view the sites before introducing them to their students to make sure the content is appropriate for the grade/age level.
1. 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 Fish, Wilfrid Gordon Macdonald Partridge, and To Be a Drum are just a few of the books available.
2. Free Children’s Stories
Founded in 2008, freechildrenstories.com operates on the simple principle that children’s development is paramount. Our mission is to offer traditional, meaningful storytelling to every child, parent, or teacher around the globe with access to the internet, for free.
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. The website is highly engaging and a favorite of young readers.
4. Online Storytime by Barnes and Noble
From The Kissing Hand read by author Audrey Wood to Pinkaliciousread by Victoria Kann, Barnes and Noble’s Online Storytime has popular children’s books read out loud. While there are no supplemental materials to accompany the stories, this free site is perfect for “Listen to Reading” stations.
Note: The first story begins right away when the page opens so be sure that your volume is adjusted accordingly before clicking the link.
TumbleBooks is a pay-for-use site that traditionally sells licenses to libraries and schools. Many public libraries, such as the Tell City, IN Public Library, 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. If your school decides to purchase a school license, there is also access to the Common Core Portal that includes lessons and quizzes to accompany the books.
6. International Children’s Digital Library
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. This is a great site for extension activities when learning about different regions of the world and can be used effectively into the middle school grades.
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.
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. There are also some great features available that give you the option of downloading the audio to your computer, listening to “catch phrase” explanations, translating text into different languages (especially helpful for your ELL students!), and more.
9. National Geographic Young Explorers
National Geographic Young Explorers is a magazine designed specifically for kindergarten and first grade students. Children can listen to the magazine being read to them as they follow along with the highlighted text. It is a great way to bring interesting non-fiction stories into reading center time.
10. Oxford Owl
After registering for a free account, you have access to over 250 children’s audio books that can be used in the classroom. The book text is not part of the presentation, so students will not be able to follow along as it is read to them.
11. 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, the site is colorful and engaging.
Post a list of the websites above next to your students’ computers so that they can easily access the pages on their own. Download the complete 11 Free Reading Sites for Kids List.