Hello, readers. This is the final post in my Technology Trends in Education series. My sweet friend, Haley deserves a shout out. She’s a homeschooling Mama of three and former elementary school teacher who sends me a text everyday to tell me she has read my blog and that she learned something new. Bless her heart. What a sweet and loyal friend, am I right? Those of you who have enjoyed the series less than Haley will be relieved to know that this is the final post headed to your inbox about trends in technology. In case it isn’t obvious, this series is a graduate education assignment. (Wink, wink.) Thank you for being along for the ride, faithful readers.
Our final topic is probably my favorite yet. I love and adore this one in my home and in my classroom! My students and my own three children use it regularly. Drumroll, please…Epic Books. (This is not an ad. I really have this much enthusiasm about Epic Books.) Check out this short video from Epic themselves.
Epic Books is a digital library that parents can access for free and schools can even subscribe for access to a larger library.
Q: What can children do with Epic Books? A: Children can choose from audiobooks, read-to-me books, and regular ebooks or read books their teacher has assigned to them in their “mailbox.”
Q: What can teachers do with Epic Books? A: Teachers can assign books to students by their reading levels, send books to their mailbox, group books together by collections (I could write an entire post about this feature alone), and so much more!
Q: Do parents have to pay for Epic Books? A: No, not necessarily. A free version of Epic Books does exist! Also, many schools have subscriptions that families can use at certain hours for free at home. Ask your child’s teacher for more information!
Let’s look at a few of my personal favorite things about Epic Books.
1) Epic Books has an app with free audiobooks. When I first discovered it, I listened to an audiobook of Anne of Green Gables just for fun while folding laundry and such. It’s delightful!
2) When the Covid shutdown happened in the spring of 2020, our youngest child was in Kindergarten. I was teaching third grade online and facilitating the online learning Zoom appointments and assignments for all three children, and my husband was working from home as well. Four of us were working independently at the kitchen table and one of us was….well…a Kindergartener. He insisted that he needed to read with a “reading Buddy” and write with a “writing Buddy.” We would have loved to be those things to him, except that all four of us had responsibilities to be online for most of the school day, as well. Enter Epic Books. Thankfully, Epic Books has read-to-me books that a child can use to turn the pages while hearing the books read aloud. Remember the “When you hear the chime, turn the page” books and cassette duos from the 1980s? Epic Books has that very capability plus you can choose the book level that’s right for the child. Thank you, Epic Books for being our Kindergarten child’s “reading buddy” for at least part of the time he needed a buddy. (We did and still do read with him, but we needed supplemental reading time.) The enthusiasm is real, I tell you.
3) The curriculum my building uses to teach literacy has units of study. I am able to cultivate collections of books for different units of study and say to my students, “You may read any book in the Mystery Collection,” or, “I sent the Biography Collection to your mailbox. You may choose any biography that you’d like to read today.” During social studies units, I am always surprised how many books I can find on any given topic! During animal research units, I assign the “Cheetah Collection” to the students in the Cheetah Research Club. I can also send specific books about a certain topic on a child’s own level directly to his mailbox so that I know he is reading a book that is “just right” for him.
4) I can track the progress of what my students and my children are reading on Epic. I can see whether or not a book has been completed and how many minutes a child spent reading a certain book. I can even create quizzes for the books for a level of accountability if I so choose. When I have to be out of the classroom and have a substitute, I love to assign Epic Books to my class so that I can monitor their independent reading time from afar or check it the next day. It’s a truly wonderful tool for tracking independent reading time in my classroom.
5) There’s an app! In my family, we’ve read Epic Books while waiting at the Barber Shop, at dentist appointments, and at the Mechanic’s Shop. Recently, my oldest soccer-playing son read a book about Lionel Messi while we sat in a waiting room. There are certainly less productive ways a child could spend his time in a waiting room. I’m thankful to be able to take this resource with us wherever we go. Speaking of soccer, our youngest son has been watching his brothers’ soccer games on the sidelines literally since birth. It’s safe to say he’s been bored a time or two. We’ve had many soccer games where we’ve had to ask him to turn down Epic Books. Feel free to laugh, but he’s a great reader. (He’s also a soccer player now, so there’s that.)
Fellow teachers and parents, there are many apps and online programs competing for the attention of our children. While many of those apps aren’t worth the time of day, Epic Books has real value to a child’s cognitive growth. I encourage you to take a look for yourself. I think you’ll find that this is one of the good ones. This is a virtual trip to the library. How many apps can say that?
From my reading teacher heart to yours,