Tag Archives: ebooks


5 places to find educational eBooks

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

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.

OER Commons

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!

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Education Work

Easily create an eBook with these 3 powerful apps

Digital books are transforming the way students of all ages learn today. The interactive elements of digital books enhance the learning experience, making it far more informative and interesting than before. Many teachers today are embracing this new media and producing some high quality student-made eBooks in their classrooms.

One of the most fascinating ways to create an eBook is using a mobile device, particularly, an iPad. StoryKit, Book Writer, and Book Creator are 3 apps my students have used to create some highly interactive, professionally looking eBooks. All three apps are excellent examples of tools that allow students to unleash their creativity and tell their own stories.

See Also: Do eBooks change the way we read, and authors write?

StoryKit (free)

StoryKit is a user-friendly free app that allows students to create eBooks with text, pictures, sound recordings, and drawings. The app allows users to import pictures from the iPad’s Camera Roll, supports multi-language text, and student made illustrations.

Although it is not as powerful as other eBook creation apps, its lack of complex features makes it ideal for lower elementary students, or, for teachers and students who are new to eBook creation. StoryKit’s main advantage is its ability to provide a platform that gives students a voice and allows them to narrate their own story. The final product can be enjoyed on the iPad, or it can be shared with others via email.

The interactivity of eBooks created with StoryKit is limited to the playback of the sound files that can be up to one minute long. Also, the app does not support file exporting or printing. Nevertheless, StoryKit is a solid authoring app that allows students to create their own eBooks from scratch, and share them in ways that protect the user’s privacy.

Book Writer (free/$4.99)

Users looking for an app with more impressive features can try Book Writer; an innovative app students and teachers can use to create eBooks. Much like StoryKit, the app supports text, audio narration, drawings, and pictures, and utilizes a user-friendly interface that makes creating an interactive book a breeze.

However, Book Writer has some additional functions to offer. For instance, students can import video files into their projects, a feature that makes their eBooks truly exciting. In addition, the app supports advance sharing options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and iTunes integration, and it even allows you to open your final product in iBooks.

Furthermore, the app allows students to customize the text’s size and color, and is enriched with some rare additional features such as link integration, slideshow mode, and background music. All these qualities guarantee a final product with a highly professional look and feel.

The free version allows the user to create only one book at a time. If you are only planning on using the app once or twice, students can share their eBook with others or open it in iBooks, and then start a new book within the app that replaces the old one. However, teachers who plan on using the app on a regular basis can buy the full version that will allow the entire class to create multiple eBooks as well as to unlock additional distribution options.

Book Creator (free/$4.99)

Book Creator is one of the most intuitive book creation apps for mobile devices, and it is the only book authoring app that can be used on more than one platform, namely, iOS and Android. The app is equipped with one of the easiest and most straightforward interfaces around, and it is one that requires no learning curve.

Book Creator allows students to import text, hand drawings, illustrations, pictures, sound files, narration, and video files, making it ideal for advance eBook creation that utilizes complex techniques such as app smashing, digital storytelling, and project based learning. Furthermore, students have the ability to combine multiple eBooks into larger books, export these books in ePub, PDF or movie format, or print them using the app’s AirPrint support.

Teachers and students using Book Creator are able to export their final projects to almost all of the major cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud. They are also able to send their work directly to iTunes University, iBooks, and even publish their eBooks on Apple’s iTunes store, so that they can share their work with anyone who lives in the Apple ecosystem.

Much like Book Writer, before buying the full version, teachers and students can try the free version of the app, which allows them to create only one book. The Book Creator Team is currently working on a plan to integrate additional widgets that will allow for 3-dimensional objects, quizzes, and other features that will improve the user experience dramatically.

Some Final Thoughts

The rise of digital books has transformed the way students of all levels are interacting with textbooks and other learning materials. Exploring new frontiers has always been a human innate trait.

Naturally, students are fascinated by eBook creation, and when immersed in this new media, they are more willing to experiment, take risks, and engage in collaborative content creation and learning. Digital book creation provides students with all the tools necessary to help them unleash their creativity. As such, it redefines education by helping students engage in new learning behaviors.

Nik will be presenting on this topic at the February 9-11 iPad Summit in San Diego. Registration is open!

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