Cathy and I get approached quite a bit these days to try out and review all kinds of products. Of course we typically only review educational resources and we politely decline those we don’t feel would truly benefit our followers.
Recently we were approached by Epic! – a children’s eBook subscription service. Of course we checked into it first and were immediately struck by two VERY important factors for us (and most likely you – since you are here on our site now!). First, it is COMPLETELY FREE FOR EDUCATORS. Yes….FREE! Second, it contains THOUSANDS OF AVAILABLE BOOKS. And you might not be here if you didn’t appreciate free teaching resources as much as we do. So please go check this out on your own after reading about the company and some of the features we love. You won’t be sorry. Not only is it free, but we really do feel it can be useful in the classroom setting for Reader’s Workshop for so many reasons. Read more to find out why….
A Little About Epic! Epic! is an eBook subscription service for kids. It can be used on desktops, laptops (including Chromebooks), iOS and Andoid devices. Epic! for Educators is 100% free to all elementary school teachers and librarians in the U.S. and Canada and allows teachers to create up to 36 student profiles for independent reading in the classroom. For families, Epic! is $4.99 per month.
What Do You Get When You Subscribe as a Teacher:
Thousands of books for kids 12 and under. Can you imagine the implications of that for brand new teachers who may have a limited classroom library? We did a few searches and although some of our favorite authors & titles weren’t available, we did find Scaredy Squirrel and Big Nate books among others. (These were favorites of our boys!) And they add new books all the time. We also found LOTS of nonfiction, which is so important. Might even be able to use the app for some preliminary research on specific topics. **NOTE: Not all titles available to parents are also available on the free teacher subscription, BUT there are still thousands to choose from, so we didn’t find it a problem.
Hundreds of read-to-me audio books. We didn’t count…just taking their word for it on this one! LOL! 🙂 The few that we clicked on had music and some sound effects to make them more engaging as well.
- Up to 36 student profiles per classroom (which can be password protected for each individual child). While we certainly hope that your numbers don’t get that high, we all know it’s a possibility these days. Students can create simple avatars for their profiles, too. Your account can be used on multiple devices at one time. Once students choose the correct classroom (in case more than one educator in your building is using Epic!), they click on their profile and start reading. This can be done on the desktops in your classroom or on mobile devices (for those of you have access to those).
Things We LOVED (besides that the fact that it’s FREE! Did we mention that part??):
Personalized Student Recommendations: The site provides personalized recommendations for each student based on their reading preferences and abilities. This would be FABULOUS for those students who spend too much of their independent reading time searching your classroom library. The app will show them dozens of possibilities that match the types and levels of books that they have already read in Epic! But it also shows them different genres so that you can help them expand their reading repertoire. Think about how wonderful it would be to sit down for a reading conference with a student if a ton of high interest titles were right in front of the student so that you could make recommendations!
Book Information: In addition to providing the suggested age ranges and reading times for books, the site also provides Accelerated Reader and/or Lexile levels for some of the books. (Not all had this information.)
- Individual Student Information/Data: As a teacher, you can glance at all of your student profiles and immediately see the books they have finished, the hours & minutes they have read, the number of pages they have flipped through and when they last read a book on Epic. If you click on specific students you can view their reading log, which lists their books and also tells you how much time it took them to read each book. We thought this was a great feature so that you can tell if your students are TRULY reading or are just flipping through the books and claiming they read them.
- Reading Offline: We noticed that you have the ability to read books offline by simply clicking a button at the top of a book. By doing this, the book is saved in the program on the device and can be read even when there is no internet connection. While this might mostly benefit the parent subscription because children can take their devices various places and still be able to read their current book choices, there might be times in a classroom setting where it might truly be an asset. We know how technology can be uncooperative in schools at times, so getting students into the habit of clicking this feature ensures they can read on a device even if the school’s internet connection has been lost.
We would LOVE for some of our followers to try this out in their classrooms and give us all feedback on how it is working! If you’re interested in getting a teacher’s subscription, simply click on any image within this post. We truly believe it is worth your while.