The Best Free eBook Resources

Written By Suzanne Feit M.S

                     Kurzweil 3000 is a powerful tool that can provide access to text both in and outside of the school environment. Once our struggling readers realize that they can access almost any text, often the next question is – where can I get more books?

Sources for Free eBooks

There are many free and low-cost websites and resources that can provide text to all students. In the past, we would stop by the library to borrow a book IF we liked to read. Those who struggled with reading never understood the joy of losing oneself in a book. Now with Kurzweil 3000, we can read and enjoy all the latest books on almost any device in any location! Students and teachers can add books to the Kurzweil 3000 Universal Library and use Kurzweil 3000 to read out loud at their own pace.

There are resources for textbooks that are free, but also resources for literature, research and news topics. And, all this material is available at the different literacy levels. Many of these resources can be virtually printed into Kurzweil 3000, or saved as a PDF and uploaded into Kurzweil 3000 with the click of a button.

Did You Know?
The Kurzweil 3000 online library is already stacked with 1,800 titles that you get for free with a web license. You can open these eBooks from your desktop or laptop by selecting “Open from Library” and clicking on the Classic Literature folder, or by logging into


eBook Resources for Textbooks

There are online resources that provide textbooks for free. Some districts use CK12 as a textbook resource. The textbooks are free and can be downloaded and opened directly into Kurzweil 3000. You can browse the site’s collection of free Common Core and state standards aligned books that are available for download.

                     Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library offering access to millions of free books. Book formats include PDF, DAISY and TXT. DAISY files must be downloaded and extracted before Kurzweil 3000 can open them. Sub-collections include books from American Libraries, Canadian Libraries, the Universal Library, Community Texts, Project Gutenberg, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Children’s Library and additional collections. You can browse by title or author, or search by specific fields using Advanced Search.

Bookshare offers a large collection of accessible titles. As a result, students, seniors, veterans, schools and many organizations around the globe use Bookshare to access the books they need for school, work and the simple love of reading. This is a resource that is also searchable from within Kurzweil 3000. However, for a student to qualify for Bookshare, the student must have a significant print disability. Go to the Bookshare website to find out more about qualifications for this free service.

Literature Resources for Free eBooks

Project Gutenberg is another popular website. Over 46,000 titles are available for free. This is a resource that is also searchable from within the Kurzweil 3000 software. The books are not protected by U.S. copyright law, usually because their copyrights have expired. They also have a number of copyrighted titles, for which the copyright holder has given permission for unlimited non-commercial worldwide use. Once you locate a file you can simply download the epub file and open it directly into Kurzweil. These books include most of the classic literature files from Shakespeare to Chaucer. The files open as Read Only, but you can save as a Kesi file if you want to extract highlights.

                     A group of teachers recently referred me to PDFBooksWorld for high schools and middle school students. These books are formatted with pagination and aligned with the copies that were being used in the classroom. PDFBooksWorld is an eBook publisher, who publishes digitized versions of books that attained the public domain status. Their mission is to transform the most popular works of legendary authors of yesteryears. This is especially helpful since many of their students did not qualify for Bookshare.
Tip: Use the Bookmark tool in Kurzweil 3000 to connect chapters with the Table of Contents for quick reference.


Additional Resources for Digital Content

Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension from nonfiction that’s always relevant using the daily news. Newsela makes it easy for an entire class to read the same content, but at a level that’s just right for each student and is Common Core aligned. A free online subscription is required. Many schools use this resource for differentiated instruction using timely subject matter. They take many different topics, from science and arts to sports. The articles are posted at several different lexile levels. Allowing students to read and interact with the materials at their own level of comprehension as well as, reading. Files can be read using Kurzweil Read the Web tools or the file can be printed and saved as a PDF and opened in Kurzweil 3000.

ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, authentic-leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online, for free, to be shared broadly. The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the standards of all 50 states. Most importantly, ReadWorks aligns with effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension. A free online subscription is required.                     

TweenTribune is a free online educational service offered by the Smithsonian for use by K-12 grade teachers and students. Tribune offers daily news sites for kids, tweens and teens. The sites include text, photos, graphics, audio and video materials prepared by the Smithsonian and others. Content includes current events, history, art, culture and science. Tribune also includes lessons, instruction and assessment tools, and opportunities for the registered users to communicate with other participants.

In Summary

There are many resources for both low-costa free eBooks, given the focus on technology in schools this list will continue to grow. We are all life-long learners, providing learners with accessible text is truly the best outcome we can promote for all of our students.

Reading for pleasure and information using websites as resources is a great option for Kurzweil 3000 users. There are other sites that offer subscriptions at minimal cost. In a future blog, we will explore some of these low-cost sites.


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