Digital Books Part 1: Free Digital Books for Speech Therapy

Digital books are some of my favorite speech therapy tools. You can use them to target almost any goal. There are some wonderful options out there that are completely free for educators. In today’s episode, I’ll be discussing where to find digital books to use in speech therapy.

Vooks

Vooks is one of the largest and most well-known digital book options. What makes Vooks so unique is that the books are animated. The characters actually make simple movements as you progress through the book. This is great for engagement, but it does make it feel a little bit less like you’re reading a book, and more like you’re watching a movie, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Epic

Epic is very extensive and well-known. They have more than 40,000 books in their library! Some of the publishers that are featured on Epic are National Geographic, Scholastic, and PBS Kids, so their nonfiction and science options are especially strong.

When you read a book on Epic, it feels a little more like a traditional reading experience. The books are not animated, and they have digital pages that turn as you progress through the book. Students can read independently or use the “read to me” option.

Storyline Online

Storyline Online is really fun and unique. It iss a collection of videos of celebrities reading children’s books! Each video alternates between showing the celebrity holding the book and reading, and then showing animated pages of the book.

Storyline Online is completely free for clinicians and families, and it can be easily accessed through the Storyline website or YouTube. No log-in or subscription is needed.

Funbrain.com

Funbrain.com is different because it only has traditional digital books, like the ones you can download onto a Kindle or other e-readers. It doesn’t have any read-to-me options or videos of the books being read.

It has good options for slightly older kids, up to eighth grade or so. Funbrain is totally free for clinicians and families, and it doesn’t require you to subscribe or log-in. The tradeoff for this is that there are a lot of ads, and they do get pretty distracting. So this is just something to keep in mind.

Story Time From Space

Story Time From Space is a really special one, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s videos of astronauts reading children’s books, while the astronauts are in space!

Most of the books are space or science-themed, and the videos tend to be a little on the longer side. Story Time From Space is totally free for everyone, and it doesn’t have any ads.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the amazing resources out there that have free digital books you can use in speech therapy. Stay tuned for our next episode that covers how to use digital books in therapy effectively.

References and resources:

Full Transcript of Podcast: Digital Books Part 1: Free Digital Books for Speech Therapy

Episode 97 - Digital Books Part 1: Where to Find Free Digital Books to Use in Speech Therapy

You're listening to the Speech Space Podcast, a podcast full of tips and resources for SLPs. I'm your host, Jessica Cassity, and this is Episode 97.

Today, we're going to be discussing where to find digital books to use in your speech therapy sessions. Before we get started, I did want to mention that this podcast is brought to you by The Digital SLP membership site, which is a site that features time-saving interactive digital resources that are all teletherapy platform-friendly. You can learn more or sign up by going to thedigitalslp.com/digitalslp.

I am really excited for today's episode because digital books are one of my favorite therapy tools. You can use them to target almost any goal really. And they're affordable! In fact, there are some wonderful options out there that are completely free for educators, and those are the ones that we're going to focus on today.

The first digital book resource that I want to share with you is called Vooks. This is one of the largest and most well-known digital book options out there. One of the main things that makes Vooks quite unique is that the books are animated. So the characters actually make simple movements as you progress through the book. Now this is great for engagement, but it does make it feel a little bit less like you're reading a book and more like you're watching a movie. So that's something to keep in mind depending on your students' needs and what you're looking for. With Vooks, the books are organized in theme-based collections, like "In the City," or "Be Caring and Kind." There's also "Women Who Changed the World." So, it's great if you like to work in themes for your speech therapy sessions. The selection is also fairly diverse in terms of racial representation, and there are lots of books available that support social-emotional learning. There's also a "five minutes or less" collection that's great for those times when an activity goes a little quicker than you planned, and you have some extra time to burn at the end of your session. Vooks also offers many different support resources. There are even downloadable Zoom backgrounds that go with some of the books, which is really great if you're doing teletherapy sessions. Vooks is free for educators, and $4.99 a month for families. So the only thing that I don't completely love about Vooks is that there isn't really an easy way to filter books by age or topic. You just kind of have to go through and browse the collections.

The next digital book resource I'd like to share with you is called Epic. If you are on my email list, then you know that I often like to share links to Epic books to use throughout the seasons. And if you're not on my email list, head on over to thedigitalslp.com and sign up. It's completely free. And I like to send out recommendations for different books for different seasons. Sometimes, I'll even give some ideas for how to use those books and some questions in vocabulary and things like that as well. But Epic is a very extensive and well-known collection of over 40,000 books that they have there in their library. Some of the publishers that are featured on Epic are things like National Geographic, Scholastic, and PBS Kids, so their nonfiction and science options are especially strong. When you read a book on Epic, it feels a little bit more like a traditional reading experience. The books are not animated, and they have digital pages that turn as you progress through the book. Students can either read independently or use the "read to me" option. Of course, you can read the book to your student aloud, which is traditionally what I do. Like Vooks, Epic has an extensive assortment of resources to support SLPs and teachers and extended learning for students. There are tutorials and videos, printables, and even fun activity calendars. One feature that's unique to Epic is their school community where educators can create and share collections. This can be a great way to collaborate in the school setting or connect with other SLPs. Epic subscription system works a little differently than Vooks. With Epic, educators and clinicians can create an account for free and they can distribute codes to their students so they can log in and read. The major downside is that free access is only available between 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM, and only during the school year. So that can be tricky for therapists who are working in private practice. If families want to get an unlimited access subscription to Epic, then the cost is about $10 a month.

The next free digital books resource that we're going to be talking about is called Storyline Online. And the great thing about this, other than it being really fun and unique, is that it is also free! It is a collection of videos of celebrities reading children's books. And each video alternates between showing the celebrity holding the book and reading, and then showing animated pages of the book. I love Storyline Online because it's completely free, like I mentioned for clinicians and families, and it can be easily accessed through the Storyline website or on YouTube. So there's no log-in or subscription that's needed. And the filtering function is also really useful because it allows you to sort the videos by runtime, which is really helpful for planning out your therapy sessions. Another great feature of Storyline Online is that every video comes with a PDF of activities that are aligned with the Common Core standards. So this is extra helpful for school-based SLPs. The only real downside with Storyline Online is that the library of available books is definitely smaller than say, Vooks or Epic.

The next resource we're going to be talking about is called Funbrain.com. Funbrain is different from the other resources that we've talked about in this episode because it only has traditional digital books, like the ones you can download onto a Kindle or other e-readers. It doesn't have any read-to-me options or videos of the books being read. Something else that makes it unique is that it has good options for slightly older kids say up to eighth grade or so. The other resources that I've talked about in this episode have primarily focused on younger children. So Funbrain could be especially great for all of those middle school SLPs out there that are listening today. The Funbrain library is on the smaller side, but it does have some very popular books like "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, for example. And Funbrain is totally free for clinicians and families, and it doesn't require you to subscribe or to log-in. So that's nice too. The tradeoff for this is that there are a lot of ads and they can get kind of distracting. So this is something that you definitely want to keep in mind.

The final resource that we're going to be talking about today is a really special one! It's called Story Time From Space, and it's exactly what it sounds like. It is videos of astronauts reading children's books while the astronauts are in space. Most of the videos have a split screen, with the astronaut reading the physical book on one side, and pages from the digital book on the other side. Usually, the astronaut also gives a short talk and shares some information about life in space. The collection of books is pretty small, but the concept is so unique and engaging. I definitely wanted to make sure to include this one. Most of the books are space or science-themed, and the videos tend to be a little on the longer side. So that's something to keep in mind. But Story Time From Space is totally free for everyone, and it does not have any ads. And like I said, it's just super special and unique and something that I definitely recommend checking out.

I hope that you enjoy learning about some of the amazing resources that are out there that have digital books that you can use in your speech therapy sessions. Please keep tuning in because I will be releasing a follow-up episode that goes into more detail about how to use digital books in therapy sessions effectively.

If you enjoyed this podcast, I would love it if you would take a moment to leave a five-star review to make it easier for fellow SLPs to find this podcast. New episodes, go out twice a month on the first and third Tuesdays. And please don't forget to check out thedigitalslp.com/digitalslp. If you are interested in exploring the membership or starting a free trial. Thanks so much for listening!

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