The 6 best digital library resources for teachers

Contributed by Victor Rees

Books2All resident writer

Fri 23 Oct 2020

Here at Books2All, we champion the importance of school libraries. Every child should have the right to access a broad range of texts freely and easily. As we work to help repair this inequity, we also appreciate the extent to which teaching has recently had to move online. With mobile education becoming a new normal, we understand how difficult it can be for teachers and parents to access books without breaking the bank.

Luckily, there’s plenty of help out there. Books2All has scoured the internet to provide a list of the most valuable online library resources. Whether you’re an experienced teacher or a parent taking the first steps in homeschooling, these sites provide a wealth of free help and information at only a few clicks away.  Though the list of library resources is by no means exhaustive, we hope this selection of sites is broad enough to help you whatever the requirements of your pupils.

Books2All blog: The 6 best digital library resources for teachers

Digital resources 1: The Internet Archive

  • Suitable for all ages
  • EBook download and online access
  • Foreign language resources
  • Access to public domain audiobooks and films
  • Print disability support
  • Free registration required for non-public domain books.

The Internet Archive is the most well-known entry on this library resources list, and for good reason. The ‘Archive Books’ section provides thousands of public domain works freely available for instant reading or PDF download. Whether you’re looking for beautifully illustrated fairy tales in the ‘Children’s Library’ or out of print editions of popular classics, there’s plenty to be satisfied with on the Internet Archive.

Most books feature options for zooming in and text-to-speech. There’s further support for readers with print disabilities, with the Internet Archive providing alternative formats if you sign up. A bit of exploring will soon lead you onto the foreign language section, providing EBooks, articles and newspapers in over 150 languages. And that’s without even delving into the sections on educational films and audiobooks!

Depending on the educator, the sheer amount of work here can be either inspiring or intimidating, especially as it’s not always clear which of the more recently published texts are available and can only be accessed for an hour. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to do some searching, there’s no limit to what you might find in digital library resources.

Digital resources 2: Open Culture

  • Suitable for all ages
  • Academic textbook download
  • Foreign language teaching
  • Exercises, audiobooks, films and more
  • No registration.

If you need a website with a greater focus on academia, look no further than Open Culture. Among its features is a list of 200 free textbooks, which can be infamously difficult to source, unlike public domain literature. The featured EBooks have a particular emphasis on computer science, mathematics and philosophy. Don’t be put off because some textbook links open to pages giving prices for physical copies – these always feature a free PDF download option.

Like the other sites featured on this library resources list, you can’t help but get the impression that Open Culture has been assembled by people who really care about providing freely accessible education. The variety of support is pretty astonishing, and the site’s clean easy-to-navigate layout means it never feels cluttered. There are links to 200 educational resources for kids, including online drawing lessons and audiobooks. You can even find pages hosting free classes for 48 languages or showcasing films from around the world.

Digital resources 3: Oxford Owl

  • Suitable from Reception to Year 6
  • Online EBook access
  • Print disability support
  • Activity sheets and exercises
  • Free registration.

Oxford Owl is a repository for children’s books that are helpfully divided by age range. It is a brilliant site for teachers and parents of young kids. After a quick login, where you state your role as either teacher or parent, you’re granted access to a large variety of constantly updating works. One recent example is John Burgerman’s Everybody Worries, a picture book teaching children how to beat anxiety in the Coronavirus age. All ebooks are supplied with zoom functions to assist reading, while a separate ‘Storytelling’ section is full of professional videos of books being read aloud.

Part of Oxford Owl’s strength is its versatility. There are pages of activity sheets for kids to download and practice, focusing on either maths (addition, subtraction, measurements, fractions) or English (writing, reading, grammar and spelling). The site is one of the more user-friendly resources for teaching children – colourful and friendly without being garish and providing a wealth of information.

Digital resources 4: Cornerstones – love to read

  • Suitable for Years 3 – 6
  • EBook downloads
  • Fun exercises
  • No registration.

For any teachers struggling to get their pupils excited in reading, this is a must-try when it comes to library resources. Cornerstones have made 45 of their ‘Love to Read’ guides available as free downloads. These slim volumes are designed to help kids respond to books, from classics like Black Beauty and The Secret Garden to modern favourites like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Stormbreaker. Though each guide is only 20 to 30 pages long, it contains a huge amount of valuable information – including overviews on the texts, insight on literary techniques and suggestions for exercises.

Each volume in the ‘Love to Read’ collection is well laid out and accompanied by charming illustrations. It’s been curated to stimulate passion in young readers while also offering support for teachers. If it sounds like it might be useful, give it a look – it’s a simple click away, granting quick access to PDFs that can be easily shared with students.

Digital resources 5: Elllo

  • Suitable for all age groups
  • Suitable for young English speakers and ESL students
  • Audio/video files
  • No registration.

Elllo boasts a digital library of over 3000 audio and video files for teaching English. It’s a valuable library resources tool for assisting foreign-language students, providing practice and exercises for various levels. Whether you have a student hoping to learn conversational English or needing help adapting to academic terminology in the classroom, there’s going to be a video or audio clip for you.

Some sound bites showcase conversations on topics like public transportation or exercise, while one-minute videos give key pointers on environmental issues and politics. Elllo’s ‘Mixer’ series features six speakers from around the world answering the same questions in English – these are perfect resources to use as listening tests or exercises. Each file is helpfully accompanied by a transcript and a quiz. It’s a valuable site for any ESL teacher, providing help in an efficient, uncluttered way.

Digital resources 6: Homeschooling with Dyslexia

  • Suitable for all age groups
  • EBook downloads
  • Links to medical associations
  • Fun exercises and games
  • No registration.

The aim of Homeschooling with Dyslexia is to inform educators and parents how to teach students with dyslexia in the most beneficial way. The information in their articles is research-based, focusing on methodologies that have achieved results in the past. You can find links to purchase several texts through Amazon, but with a bit of searching, it’s easy to find blog posts that showcase free EBook downloads.

Another of its articles, ‘100 Resources for Teaching Kids With Dyslexia’, provides invaluable advice on how best to customise education to a child’s specific needs and skills. The website features links to medical associations as well as fun exercises and games. If a parent or teacher feels out of their depth, there’s a handy ‘start here’ section, along with further links to tutoring classes and the chance to consult with experts in the field.

Thank you for visiting our blog. Our vision here at Books2All is a world where every child finds the books that help them reach their true potential. If you have spare books in good condition at home that you think might be appropriate for school children, please sign up for our app’s pre-release waiting list. If you represent a school, please register to receive books for your students.

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