Professional Development

August 22, 2020

How to Get Books in Students’ Hands While Distance Learning

You’ve probably started setting up your virtual classroom in your learning platform. You’ve planned on how to get to know your students (and for them to get to know each other!). Maybe you’ve started working on your first day of virtual school lesson plans. Perhaps you’ve even started working on your plan to launch guided reading virtually. But, have you thought about how to get books to students during distance learning?

This can be a tricky thing because there can be so many obstacles to overcome. You probably have a lot on your plate this year. Parents might feel overwhelmed trying to help their children experience success while distance learning. Now more than ever, cultivating a love for reading and supporting reading at home is so important.

Why Students Need Books During Distance Learning

Part of every child’s reading journey includes finding joy in reading. This isn’t always easy or naturally found. We have to help students learn to enjoy books, whether they are reading for fun or to learn. By providing students books at home, we can help foster a love for reading.

Additionally, if students have books in their hands during distance learning, they will continually be exposed to sight words, new vocabulary words, and positive experiences with books. They also learn concepts about print. Study after study suggests that the more exposure children have to books, the more successful in literacy skills and development they will be.

Virtual Book Boxes

A virtual book box is just a digital collection of books for students. You can use leveled guided reading books, books of interest for students, or both! Whether your school has a budget to purchase a digital collection or not, I found some great options for both!

Digital guided reading books in PDF format

All of my leveled guided reading kits now include a digital format for each guided reading book. That means that you can email parents a PDF version of the books for students to read on any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

You can send students (or their parents) previously read texts to continue to read for fluency and comprehension practice. Check them out below:

Epic Books

Epic Books is a website with virtual books that students love! This website (and app!) is the ultimate database for books. Plus, it’s free for educators. Your students can access many types of books from home!

Epic has everything from “picture books to chapter books, early readers, audiobooks, graphic novels, non-fiction titles, educational books, videos, and more.” They even have books in Spanish. This app also includes informational videos.


myON is a subscription website that also provides access to virtual books for students. Grade levels or schools can purchase subscriptions. This option is pricey, but it includes many features for progress monitoring that make it unique.

Raz Kids

Reading A to Z, also called Raz Kids, has a data base of leveled guided reading books. You can print them out to use in the classroom or have students sign in and read them on a device. There is a free two-week trial, and then you pay for a yearly subscription.

If you are interested in Reading A-Z books, they have collaborated with me and are giving you $5 off with THIS LINK!

Drive-Thru Book Pickup

Another great way to get books to students while distance learning is to have a drive-thru book pickup at school. You can send a quick survey email and ask students for three types of books they are interested in. Then, you could bookshop in your school or classroom library for them.

If you have printed guided reading books or access to a literacy library, you could also send home books from students’ previous guided reading groups as well.

Because this would be a little more labor-intensive, just do your best to get the right books into the right hands. I wouldn’t worry about getting specific book titles, just book topics.

Deliver Books to Students

If you live by students, or they all live close to each other, you could do the same technique as the drive-thru book pickup, but deliver the books instead.

If you choose to deliver books to students while distance learning, you might consider only doing this once per nine weeks. You could ask parents to bring the books back to campus if possible, too.

Send Information on Public Library Curbside Book Pickups

Finally, many public libraries are offering curbside pickup for books for families in the area they serve. Research your students’ local library and get the details on how that works for families. Then, share that with the parents in your classroom via a handout, email, or on your classroom website. Often times parents are willing to do things like this, but just don’t have the time to figure out all of the details to be able to.

When you send your first books home with students, either virtual or physical books, I’d encourage you to send home my FREE handout to help parents with reading at home.

You can make copies and send it with the books or email it to your students’ parents. Grab it HERE!

I will keep brainstorming ways to help you get books to students while distance learning. Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? If so, leave a comment below!

I’m so impressed with all of the things you guys, my teacher friends, are doing to prepare students for success this year. Whether teaching in-person or distance learning, you are striving for excellence. Keep it up!

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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