Hunting down classic literature and important manuscripts may mean more than a quick Google search for many of us. You may turn to paid sources like Amazon or even (oh, the humanity!) turn to printed books in your library. The horror! We kid. We love the library and feature effective ways to use libraries all the time.
So what happens when Google, Amazon, and your local library come up short in your quest for free educational eBooks? Never fear, there are a few critical resources you should know about. From Harvard to Bartleby to the International Children’s Digital Library … there’s plenty of ways to find a quality epub or downloadable book for your classroom or pleasure reading. Here’s some of our favorites:
The Harvard Classics
Some of the most important works of literature are a part of the dozens of volumes available in The Harvard Classics. They were curated by Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot and were published in 1909. They’re available in open format here and here.. An interesting note about The Harvard Classics: President Eliot had originally referred to these works as the “3-foot-shelf” and said that one could “obtain the elements of a liberal education” by spending 15 minutes a day reading from the shelf. Let’s see if he’s right!
Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 free e-books (free epub books, free kindle books, read online, or download them). They offer books that have been actually published, and the volunteers at Project Gutenberg have digitized and proofread them. You can read them all for free, but if it is something you use regularly, they do ask that you consider donating a bit to their cause.
The go-to source for the classics, Bartleby.com features Gray’s Anatomy, the Harvard Classics (see above), the King James Bible, and just about every major publication you could ever require. The best part of the site is the ease with which you can surface relevant content and sort / filter. You get quality search results with easy download links without all the muckity muck (that’s a technical term) of a Google or Amazon search.
Open Educational Resources (aka OER Commons) boasts more than 40,000, well, resources for teachers. When you first hit the website, you immediately feel like you’re about to do a Google search. But once you get your results, you can see that you can then ‘remix and share’ multiple resources to form some sort of Voltron-eque super-resource. Or, to put it another way, you can create the resource that you want thanks to the benefit of open access to all the resources.
ICDL – International Children’s Digital Library
Just like a brick-and-mortar library, the ICDL feels just like what you’re accustomed to. It lets you become a member, take out books, and do even more. For example, you can read a book (on any device) and translate most of the text, enlarge the text, and navigate with ease. But remember these are children’s books so when you’re given the ability to enlarge the text … that’s something pretty rare. Definitely worth checking out ICDL if you’re a K-12 educator, student, or parent!