Digitized Classic Books for All Ages

The Library of Congress recently announced a collaborative project with the Ad Council and Reading is Fundamental to encourage parents to read to their children. In that spirit, I’d like to highlight a selection of digitized classic books for use by parents at home as well as by educators in classrooms and libraries.

  • Alphabet books include Kate Greenaway’s A Apple Pie and Baseball ABC by Peter Newell. Not only can they be used to teach the alphabet, but they also offer a peek at images and attitudes from the past. Students past the age of reading alphabet books may compare these to more recent favorites that they read in the primary grades.
  • The Twelve Magic Changelings and Mother Goose Finger Plays present puppets and games related to familiar stories. These are great for engaging young children, but some of the stories, such as Robinson Crusoe, also will appeal to older readers.

    The Rocket Book

  • Not all of the books are in English, though. Vieilles Chansons pour les Petits Enfants, Le Corbeau (The Raven), and My Very First Little German Book provide opportunities to practice reading in French and German.
  • Gobolinks presents a series of short poems inspired by inkblots or “shadow pictures,” but also describes the “Game of Gobolink.” Kids and adults can browse the pictures and poems and then try their hand at creating a few of their own. (Some might even make a math connection and notice the line of symmetry in the pictures.)
  • Another book in verse, The Rocket Book, narrates the passage of a rocket, lit by the janitor’s son, from the basement up through 20 floors of apartments. Even reluctant readers might get drawn in by the richly illustrated hilarity that ensues.
  • Favorite chapter books include The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Arabian Nights, A Christmas Carol and The Secret Garden. Students may already know some of the stories from film or other adaptations, but they might find surprises in these rare editions.

The choices are a few of my favorites, the list admittedly a bit random, and I hope you’ll browse the complete list and let us know your favorites – or your students’ favorites! – in the comments below.

The Titanic: In the News and in Memory

How can we learn from tragedies? It’s a universal question that can engage students as they consider both contemporary and historic examples. April 15, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic, presents a timely opportunity. Help your students analyze varying perspectives on this tragic event through primary sources from the Library of Congress.