Meet Bookshare, the 1-Million-Ebook Library That Wants To Make Teachers Lives Easier

One student needs enlarged text? Another needs audiobooks? No problem.

Sponsored By Bookshare
Shot of a young teenage boy using a digital tablet while doing his homework

When assistive technology hits the mark, it’s truly transformative. But when it falls short, it can add to the already heavy load teachers carry each day. Lumped in with all the other challenges teachers face, searching out the best assistive technology and all the ways we can use it is a very big lift. That’s where Bookshare comes in. This inclusive education tool offers specialized audiobooks and ebooks that empower learners of all abilities to read in ways that work for them.

With access to over a million titles for every age and interest of readers, your students can find the books they want for school as well as for recreational reading. And are you ready for the best part? It’s completely free for U.S. schools and students with qualifying disabilities. You can visit Bookshare to get your school signed up, but first take a look at how this nonprofit resource will help you with some of the common challenges teachers face every day.

Problem: Lots of students with different special needs

A few years ago, in addition to the normal list of adaptations and SDIs, I had four students in one class who all required different adaptations to work with printed text. One student needed the text enlarged, so I had to figure out how to make the pages bigger without cutting off sentences. Another student needed their article printed on colored paper. The other two required audio versions. None of these adaptations were impossible to manage on their own, but all together they were time-consuming. As more and more responsibilities are heaped onto teachers’ plates, however, finding time to meet each student’s unique learning needs can become overwhelming.

Solution: Lots of adaptations all done with one app

With Bookshare, so many of those adaptations can be made in one place with one device. Here are just a few things the app allows qualifying students to do:

Infographic showing that Bookshare allows users to access over 1 million ebooks, change font size, listen to them be read out loud, and more

Problem: Students who struggle to read become students who hate to read

We see students like this every day. Reading barriers like dyslexia, vision issues, and physical impairments put students behind their peers, and after several years of struggling to keep up, they give up. Who can blame them? We provide books in formats they cannot access effectively, and they lose confidence and the desire to read, even though they might love it.

Solution: Empower struggling readers with alternative formats and assistive reading features

Every Bookshare ebook comes in multiple formats. These include audio, audio + highlighted text, large font, and braille, giving students more ways to read than any other library. Plus, assistive reading features like the ones mentioned in the graphic above can make reading easier. So students spend less time decoding, tracking, or trying to see text, and more time learning (and maybe even enjoying a reading experience that works for them). Check out these students talking about how Bookshare has opened up the world of reading for them:

Problem: Teacher shortages mean more students and less time

There are so many reasons for our nation’s growing teacher shortage, but if you’re one teacher who’s doing the work of two (or three!), the reasons may not feel as important as solutions for how to teach way more kids than one person normally can.

Solution: Increased student independence

Think about the things that take up time in your classroom. Answering students’ questions about a text. Helping students find answers when they don’t understand what they read. Keeping students on task while you’re working with others. While Bookshare acknowledges it isn’t going to fix every classroom problem, they do want to help teachers reclaim some of this lost time.

Problem: Parents want teachers to provide instructional material for them to use at home

This is one of those “good” problems, right? As we head into spring, the requests for supplemental instructional materials start hitting our inboxes. At parent-teacher conferences, parents ask how they can encourage their reluctant reader to pick up a book over the summer. Special education teachers start thinking about how to help their students continue to make progress on their goals over the break. While it’s wonderful to have opportunities to help our students continue to learn outside of our classroom, the fact is, the burden of providing that instructional material almost always lands at the feet of the teacher.

Solution: Home access to all Bookshare’s offerings

Photo of a Black father and son sitting on a couch smiling as they look at a laptop

If a student qualifies for Bookshare, they have access to it anywhere and on any device, including laptops, Chromebooks, smartphones, and tablets. Because of this, it’s a wonderful tool to provide parents who want their child to read more at home. Bookshare has an enormous library of popular fiction and nonfiction books. Students will be able to find books on almost any topic that interests them, that their teachers assigned, or that their friends are currently reading. Parents can learn more about how to use the app on the company’s website.

Want to learn more about how to bring Bookshare into your classroom? Click the button below.

Meet Bookshare, the 1 Million Ebook Library That Wants To Make Teachers Lives Easier