I have learned that the first grade class will have access to ipads which I will use for Listen to reading. However, I have a problem with the free reading sites I have found - many don’t show the words! That seems to defeat the purpose in my mind as it is just like watching a video. So, are there good free sites for this age group out there beyond Starfall?

Secondly, I plan on making my own recordings online, putting the audio files in dropbox, making a QR code to the link, and placing a copy of the QR code on the back of the book so students could just scan the code with the ipad QR reader (free app) and listen to the story. This way I could use listen to reading with any book in the classroom. So my question is: how do I prioritize which books to record? This question then becomes how should students choose a book for Listen to Reading? Obviously, it should interest them, but should it be at their reading level? Above? Does that matter? I thought of using it for some of the fun picture books that are very engaging but a little too hard for most of the readers just because I think some of these books are so funny. Or should I avoid this? I thought of recording the read-alouds I use in class and then placing them in this section after I used them. Should I keep strictly to the text when recording? Or should I add things like “I see this crazy thing on the cover - I am really interested in reading this book to find out…” Should I avoid such comments during the story?

I know that is a lot of questions. Your thoughts??? Advantages or disadvantages you see with different choices?

FYI: the online recording site I have used is:

The QR code generator site is: (free for Static QR code - those where the link doesn’t change)

Or has anyone found easier, better sites or better ways to do this?

Thank you in advance.





Susan Grodek

I’ve done D5 for 2 years in first grade. Listen to Reading is probably the one I spend the least amount of time planning for. First, you are right. It’s hard to find books read online that show both the words and pictures. I suggest you search youtube. Many thousands of books exist that do a good job of both text and pictures. Since you already know how to create QR codes, I suggest finding the videos on youtube, running them through a program like to eliminate the ads and creating a file or ring of QR codes. I’m not sure if you know about Teachers Pay Teachers, but there are lots of QR code books for free or small fees on TpT.
Second, I pick my books strictly on enjoyment or theme- fall books for fall, bat books when we’re reading about bats, characters they love, etc. I never assign books to listen to. It is free choice between what I have out. At the beginning of the year, I use the class computers for listen to reading. Later when we need the computers for other things, we have the old fashioned Cd and book. I’ll leave 5-6 out for them to choose. I only have 2 iPads and we use them for different things. There’s a splitter I picked up from Amazon if you want more than one student to listen to one iPad. It’s called the Belkin Rockstar Multi Headphone Splitter. It works well with earbuds. I think by the middle of the year, you’ll find that most kids move away from the listen to reading as a choice (my must do is only read to self) unless you have 5 rotations every day.


A site for Listening to Reading that we use is Tumblebooks. It shows the actual illustrations and words, and reads the books to the listeners.
You can get a 30 day free trial to see how you like it. If you have other teachers who are interested, you all can take turns getting the 30 free trial and share passwords (I know, we’ll all be in teacher jail together) :). If your school decides they like it, the K-3 site license is like $600. I know it’s a good chunk of change, but you can write grants, like through Donors Choose (easy and very supportive of teachers).
I agree with Susan that books for Listening to Reading should be books of choice, and it’s fun to have book suggestions related to what you’re studying.

Melody Rae

Hi there:
As a former actor, listening to reading is a passion of mine. My opinion and much of what I have read says that listen to reading is especially good for high interest books not at a readers level. It offers 3 things in addition to the story:

  1. Access to new vocabulary 2. tracking practice. 3. hearing what good/interesting reading (aka fluency) sounds like.
    If you have English language learners it is an additional boost to their language acquisition.
    As for adding your own remarks…that could be fun, but remember, you want your reading to come in at the child’s/class’ stamina level. You might want to note those books with a sticker so students know they may take longer than 1 session, and have a procedure in place . If you do mini lessons in between your sessions, you would have to interrupt the story to have them join you. Children are usually quite immersed mid-story and it can be hard to get their attention and for them to come out of their book world into a learning space.
    Have fun with this!

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