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Reading practice is essential for developing reading fluency. Although there are a lot of books available to children, it can be challenging to find books at the right level. Leveled readers have been used historically to teach reading and build fluency. Although the current education model for teaching reading generally begins with phonics instruction, readers are still helpful for general reading and fluency practice. The stories in leveled readers gradually increase in difficulty. The following Free Leveled Readers were used historically to teach reading in the United States.
CLICK HERE to read about methods used to improve reading fluency.
Free Leveled Readers to Borrow
Dick and Jane readers can be borrowed for free from openlibrary.org. I have never used Open Library, so I cannot provide any direct feedback on this source for books.
Full Reader Sets that Can be Downloaded for Free
McGuffey Readers were first used in the late 1870s. A range of 7 levels are available to download from pre-primer to 6th. The books can be downloaded in a variety of formats including PDF, Word, or Kindle versions. CLICK HERE to go to the Gutenberg website where these readers can be downloaded for free.
Reading-Literature Series by Treadwell & Free
The Reading-Literature Series, by Treadwell and Free, was published in between 1910 and 1915. The books contain children’s literature and are leveled for reading practice. For example, stories such as “The Little Red Hen” and “The Gingerbread Boy” are included in the Primer Level. Nine levels are available for download from Primer to 8. CLICK HERE to go to the archive.org website to download these readers for free.
Both Kindle and print versions of these readers are available from Amazon, but not for free.
Partial Reader Sets Available for Free Download
The Elon Readers Series first became available in the 1930s. Although I could not find a complete set available for free, I did find the preprimer, primer, and Book 1 available from archive.org. There are additional books up to book 8.
The additional levels are available from Amazon, but not for free.
Alice and Jerry Readers were first published in the 1930’s. Many of the readers can be downloaded for free from archive.org. The available readers are organized by volume and parts. The reading readiness level has 2 parts, the Pre-primer level has 7 parts, and the primer level has 2 parts available. Volumes 1-6 have 1-3 parts available for download. Although quite a few books are available for free, some of the parts for the volume levels may not be available.
Summary of Free Leveled Readers
The resources included will allow you to download free leveled readers to use with your child. Most of the readers can be downloaded in multiple formats (e.g., PDF or Word). These can then be transferred to an e-reader such as a kindle or kindle app, or printed for those who prefer a paper format. The free leveled readers have been used historically to teach reading skills to children, but are still an excellent resource for fluency practice.