I’ve been overwhelmed so far by the great sites that everyone has been mentioning in the comments and on the forum. I thought that many of the March is Reading posts would go by unnoticed, or at least uncommented as people shrugged off the notion of reading online instead of paper-bound books. That hasn’t been the case, so I thought it might be beneficial to take a bit of time and talk about some sites that might be perfect for those anti-readers, or reluctant readers. Not necessarily the students that can’t read, but rather those students that are more than capable of reading but aren’t turned on by the traditional favorites. Here are just a few I’d suggest:
Storybook Online Network
This site really fascinates me as it takes the idea of reading, combines it with writing, and then adds the element of a community of student writers. Any student can read any of the stories, or submit their own story, whether it is completely original or their own “fan fiction”. The story is reviewed by the owner of the site and is then published on the website for other students to read. While not everything that is submitted is published, there are plenty of opportunities for the reluctant reader to write about something they enjoy and share it with others, OR (and this is the fun part), they can submit a continuation of a previously started story. In a collaborative effort, students can submit a story one paragraph at a time. In order for the story to make sense, and be appealing to other readers, the writer has to read everything that’s been written and get a good feel for where the story and characters are headed. The site doesn’t seem to need a login or username, just the writer’s name, age, and the writing, so enjoy relatively anonymously.
I haven’t had much experience with this site, but it does have a lot of great quick 2 to 5 minute mysteries to give the reluctant reader an immediate reward for reading. Who killed the butler, where did the missing gold go, and other short suspenseful stories draw the reader in quickly and ask them to solve the mystery. Many readers and anti-readers I’ve run across usually enjoy a good mystery and are eager to flex their mental muscles to see if they can solve the crime. Longer monthly mysteries and “twist” stories are available for those readers that get hooked and want a longer or a more difficult challenge.
Often hailed as graphic novels, comic books usually make most language arts teachers cringe in regard to grammar, substance, and storyline. I say if students aren’t reading on their own, perhaps the choppy grammar, gritty substance, or simple “cartoon” appeal might entice them to start reading. Even some of my poorer readers in class enjoy reading through simple Looney Tunes comics on free read Fridays. Marvel has done a great job creating navigation for these digital comics, allowing each page to be viewed in it’s entirety, or scrolling through panel by panel. Each new page loads as you’re viewing the current page, so there’s little waiting, and many fan favorites such as Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men are available. This site does require that you register if you want to read more than just the first 5 or 6 pages, but the registration is completely free and you don’t have to sign up for any extra e-mails or programs (I signed up without having to enter any more personal information than my name and zip code). The digital comics themselves are crisp, clear, and quite the fun read (especially if you’re a comic fan like me).
Enjoy the sites, and please share any other sites that you use for encouraging reluctant readers.