Twelve Days of Christmas: Free E-Books

Only a couple more posts left after this one! Grab a mug or cup of cocoa, green tea, barley tea, or your other beverage of choice, particularly if it’s snowing where you are right now–not too close to the computer, mind you–and let’s settle in with a stack of entertaining and educational free reading material.


The International Children’s Digital Library lets you view children’s books online (legally). Many of these books are beautiful and interesting enough that a class may be willing to view them even if they’re older than the original target age group. (I’ve had success using children’s books with students who are forty-something, as long as the art and stories are sincere enough.) These can make a nice diversion around holidays or form the focus of other activities. I don’t think they can be downloaded, but the ICDL people have thoughtfully provided a teacher training manual with information and suggestions about how to use the site.

The British Council at the BBC presents Teaching English: Transform – Books. These twelve e-books range from Global Citizenship in the English Language Classroom to Intercultural Resources Pack for Latin America . They’re PDFs, so you can view them on your computer and many mobile devices including iPhones and Kindles, and you can always see about printing them (try two-sided printing or see if there’s any scrap with clean backs–I really don’t love reading e-books on my computer, but I hate wasting paper!).

Teacher’s guides for the Azar grammar books can be downloaded from the official Azar website. Yeah, I had no idea until I’d bought a couple, either. You can also download a grammar book called Fun with Grammar here.

Stephen Krashen has put two of his books online, although they’re very old, as well as several articles. If you’ve never read any Krashen but you keep hearing about him, you could start here. David Crystal doesn’t have any entire books online, but does have a great number of articles, dating back to the 60s. If you know of any other language luminaries who’ve kindly put their writings online in bulk like this, please leave a comment!

The Online Books Page from the University of Pennsylvania is a huge collection of links to online books. You can browse it or search it. When I looked in the official Library of Congress-style subject heading “English Language — Study and Teaching — Foreign speakers” (sigh), I got things ranging from potentially useful for the right person (Writing Program Administration, 2007) to useless but potentially hilarious (books from 1914 and 1916 that would only be useful to people writing histories of change in teaching). But it’s worth poking around; I actually found a novella written for Japanese students of English, Many Roads to Japan, and we all know that material for extensive reading can be hard to come by. I don’t know if it’s any good, but I definitely plan to explore UPenn’s site more. Hat-tip to my husband the math teacher, who has read a variety of books, from Algernon Blackwood to natural history, via this site. (Oh my, he’s just pointed out they have links to a number of free Harlequin romances–well, I’ve heard those can be very popular with students!) Because the site uses this awkward library-style subject categorization, this is definitely a time to put in various topics like “linguistics,” “communication,” and so on if you’re looking for work-related topics.

For relaxation and personal enrichment purposes (and possibly really advanced students), here’s some legitimate free fiction and nonfiction online:

For short fiction links and other free fiction, check out my free+fiction tags at Delicious (which I’ll talk about using one of these days–maybe tomorrow if I’m desperate!).

By the way, you can find PDFs on many topics by going to Google’s advanced search page and choosing File Type: pdf.







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