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  • Writer's pictureSusy Bryceland

The BEST online reading resources for kids

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

We would all love our kids to have access to plenty of quality reading materials, but right now, with many schools and public libraries closed, we may have fewer books at home than usual. So I've compiled a list of my TOP websites for reading materials (in no particular order…)

The Ultimate Guide to Online Reading

1. Epic

I LOVE Epic. We’re lucky enough to have a subscription provided by school but if you don’t, Epic are currently offering 30 days FREE access for parents. I don’t know how long this offer will last for so check it out quickly!

They have a HUGE, fantastic collection of books, videos and quizzes for children from early readers up to age 12. Books are separated into age ranges to help you choose appropriate reading and there are some which can be read by your child and others which can be enjoyed as an audiobook. There really is such a great range of books here, I recommend you have a try while it’s free.

2. National Geographic Kids

This doesn’t feel like traditional reading but kids will find lots of great material to read in the Discover section and the Kids Club tab. There is a wide range of articles to read in each of the areas on offer - Animals, Science, History, and Geography - so your child can follow their passions and read about what interests them.

Encourage them to be a fact-finder, a scientist, an inquirer...and see what they can learn!

This site also has a fantastic activities section under the Home is Good tab, where you’ll find lots of inspiring experiments, creative projects, quizzes and mindfulness activities.

Not only will these ideas help you out when your kids are struggling with boredom, but by reading the instructions for each activity, then you’ve also got some reading practice!

I’m so glad I’ve discovered this website for my fact-loving son!

3. CBeebies Bedtime Stories

This is just lovely. Rather than reading, this is all about listening. Part of developing as a reader is understanding and demonstrating pace, fluency, expression and patterns of language. A great way to learn this is by listening to other readers!

These stories are aimed at pre-schoolers to roughly age 8 (although there’s no age limit on enjoying a good storybook - I still enjoy them!).

Popular picture books are read by celebrities in a cosy armchair setting with a relaxing bedtime feel.

Yes, it may feel like your kids are just watching more TV, but right now, we have to use whatever resources we have. And if you’re running low on books at home then why not enjoy a ready-made bedtime story. You can still snuggle up with your kids and enjoy listening together.

My kids absolutely love watching these. They enjoy accessing storybooks that we don’t have on our own bookshelf and it’s fun to hear stories read by different people, with different reading styles and accents. If you’re in the UK you can watch these on the BBC iPlayer or download the app, or anywhere else in the world you’ll find them on YouTube. Most stories are around the 5-minute mark or under.

4. Audible

If you’re not familiar with Audible, it’s an Amazon company with a huge collection of audiobooks. As I just mentioned, listening to stories is still a great way to develop reading skills and can also extend vocabulary, even if you're not reading yourself!

Usually, access to Audible requires a paid monthly subscription, but right now, while schools are closed, Audible is offering a selection of free audiobooks (here) with no account or sign-up required.

There are books for all ages here ‘Littlest Readers’ to Teens and Adult Fiction, and there are books available in eight languages. I have no idea how long this offer will last for so make use of it while you can!

If you and your family enjoy Audible you can also try their free 30-day trial...but do be aware that this is an auto-renewal so you must cancel your subscription before the month is up or you’ll automatically be charged.

You can cancel anytime within the 30 days to make sure you won’t be charged at the end of the trial. However, if you love it and want to pay for the monthly subscription, you can carry on enjoying the full range of audiobooks.

We’re big fans of Audible in our house, especially Ladybird Sleepy Tales for bedtime. We usually only listen to them at the weekend so the kids don’t lose the ability and the skill of falling asleep on their own. But it really is quite lovely to fall asleep to the soothing tones of Candida Gubbins...I’ve done so plenty of times myself!

My six-year-old and three-year-old also absolutely love David Walliams’ Spectacular Stories for the Very Young, read by the author...this collection includes four of his extremely popular books - super entertaining but definitely not helpful for settling them down at bedtime - keep this for enjoying during the day!

5. Starfall

I’ve used this website and app for years, for Pre-K and Kindergarten ages, although there are activities for children up to Grade 3.

If your child is just beginning to read they can play games to develop and practice skills such as rhyming, letter sounds and blending.

There is a range of easy-to-read stories using CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words as well as a ‘talking library’.

For older children (Grades 1-3) there is also a range of games to practise reading skills as well as some fiction and non-fiction stories to read or to listen to and follow along.

There is an option to register to join this site, however, I’ve never done this so I’m not sure of the benefits. Kids love the fun and colourful games on Starfall, so it's worth a look if your child would benefit from working on pre-reading skills, such as learning letter sounds and blending.

6. ABCYa

This is another great website for educational games, especially for developing reading skills.

Although there are not as many storybooks to read on this site as there are on others, there are so many great games to develop literacy skills (and more).

You can choose the level from Pre-K to Grade 6+ to find a range of games and some online stories.

There is an option to register to become a premium member - I’ve regularly used ABCya as a teacher and parent and have never registered so you can access plenty of valuable activities without registering, however you may want to check out the option to subscribe if it interests you.

7. Story Online

This is a new website for me - I hadn’t come across it until very recently but it’s similar to CBeebies - celebrities read aloud books which can be viewed through YouTube (you have a choice between viewing on YouTube or Vimeo).

However, many of these stories would be suitable for an older audience than CBeebies and each book comes with age guidance.

A great feature about this website is that many stories (but not all) come with extensive learning resources so you could create a full literacy lesson around the book if you wanted to.

There are suggestions for talking points to help develop comprehension skills as well as a varied range of connected activities including creative arts, writing, physical activities and more, depending on the book.

This is a free resource so it’s worth checking it out to see if it’s useful for your family.

8. Oxford Owl

Last but definitely not least…

I’m so happy that I came across Oxford Owl recently! This is a lovely site full of extremely valuable, free resources for parents.

It’s a UK site, based on a British reading system, The Oxford Reading Tree, so books are levelled according to this. However, anyone can use this site and their free e-book library is also levelled by age.

You need to register in order to access the library of free e-books, but all they require is a name and email address.

I’m a big fan of Oxford Reading Tree books as they are mainly decodable (kids can sound out the words using their knowledge of phonics) and I’ve used these books whilst teaching the British Curriculum.

If you’re not familiar with this reading scheme, there’s a short test on the website which asks a few simple questions about your child’s age and reading stage to give you an idea of which level to start them on.

It also has lots of great tips for parents supporting their children’s reading relating to phonics, blending, tricky words and lots more. I really recommend this site.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that it's worth asking your school if they have any online reading subscriptions. My six-year-old uses Raz Kids (Reading A-Z) because we’re lucky enough that our school has a subscription. If your school also has one, then you are in luck! This is a brilliant resource.

My son loves it and is currently reading with it nearly every day - because he genuinely enjoys it. Books are levelled and you have the choice to listen to the book (each word is highlighted as you follow along) to read it, and then complete a quiz to develop comprehension skills. .

It also has a great function where your child can record themselves reading and listen back. This then gives them an opportunity to ask themselves if they are using expression in their reading, appropriate pace and if they are reading fluently.

It's definitely worth asking your school if they have a subscription to this site or any others.

Well, that’s the end of my TOP reading websites for kids, but if you know of any more great online resources, please do get in touch and share them!

Happy reading!

*Disclosure - this post contains affiliate links for Audible, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase on a product, I will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you.

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