Why eBooks?

History teachers have their students write in various genres including, historical narrative, creative fiction, first person accounts, poetry, and more. Through these genres, students can investigate history and develop their understanding of the impact of the events of the past. However, student work is usually limited to the printed word, possibly enhanced by images and diagrams, and only seen by the author and evaluator. In 21st society the dominance of conventional, linear text of the last few centuries is eroding and quickly giving way to multimodal communication, with a screen-based, non-linear, and visual emphasis. With the advent of eBooks, history students can not only read content electronically but produce interactive written work of their own, complete with images, audio and video, and interactive hyperlinks. Collaboration is more possible than with simple word processing, and student work can be shared with anyone via the Internet, allowing students to create content for classmates and others.

Searching for eBooks

Along with having students create eBooks as a demonstration of thier learning and understanding, eBooks can also be used to enhance the teaching and learning in your classroom. Thousands of historical texts that are now in the public domain are available in their entirety online in multiple eBook formats. As 1:1 programs (one computing device per student) become more prevelant, teachers can begin to take advantage of the wealth of resources available online in eBook format. Ebooks can be directly downloaded to tablet devices, eBook readers and embedded or linked from a class website or blog. Teachers no longer have to invest in a class set of books to be able to use a specific text as part of their class. With a strategic online search, books in the public domain can be quickly found as eBooks online.

  • Google Books – Books that are out of copyright and available in the public domain are a also available in their entirety on Google Books. Google provides an embed code for each book in their database and this code can be pasted into any website, blog or wiki to allow your students to read from the text directly from your class site. Some Google Books can also be downloaded as a pdf or ePub format that can be read directly on an e-reader or handheld or tablet device.
  • Google Search – When conducting a search online, simply add the term eBook or eText to the search terms. This simple addition will point your search in a direction that will find eBooks that you can then use in your classroom.
  • Project Gutenberg – Similar to Google Books, Project Gutenberg is beginning the process of making books available online for download from their database in a number of eBook formats. Within Project Gutenberg, you can search by keywork, author or category. Books can be downloaded to reader on a handheld device, tablet or can be read directly from the site. When available, Project Gutenberg also includes audio books for download that can be downloaded and played on a portable mp3 player.
  • LibriVox – An eBook isn’t just downloadable text, LibriVox offers audio files for download of books that are available in the public domain. Simply search for a book by title or author and download the audio file. The audio file can be played back in class or transfered to a portable mp3 player.

eBooks Tools & Resources

There are many online platforms that allow students to create eBooks, each with varied functions in regards to stock images, importing possibility, multimedia, and conversion from word processed documents. Most eBook platforms allow work to be printed if desired, and many allow authors to select a bound final product (for a fee). Teachers should check each platform thoroughly before using it with their students, as many platforms are commercial in nature and may contain examples not suited for elementary grade levels. Many sites also have social networking capabilities, with tagging, contacts, online communities, and messaging. All eBook platforms require authors to create an account with an active email to login. Teachers may choose to create a group login for collaboration, and some platforms have class subscriptions for educators with secure sites.


Readlists is a web site that automatically generates ePub files from web links that your students can then read with any eReader. Each Readlist can contain an unlimited number articles. When the compiled ePub is read on iPad, all of the ads and navigation from the web sites are removed for a cleaner reading experience. Teachers can create a FREE Readability account to be able to edit and save Readlists, and students could use this as a way to curate research materials.

With myebook , authors can choose to create a work from an existing .pdf file or from scratch. If creating from scratch, authors can start with blank pages or with a theme. Once begun, authors can enter text, load and insert images, embed video and flash files or embed external movies, incorporate hyperlinks, and add forms and documents. Authors can change the look and feel of the book by modifying fonts, backgrounds, and color schemes. Clip art is limited in myebook. Once published, the work can be shared via a hyperlink or social media outlets, or it can be embedded into an existing Web site or wiki. Books can also be protected by a password.

Making an eBook on Bookemon is straightforward and fairly easy. As with other platforms, authors may Bookemons upload an existing document (.pdf. .ppt, or .doc), start from scratch with a blank page, or use one of Bookemon’s many templates. Bookemon also has an edCenter, allowing teachers to create a “cure, private and friendly environment for their students and staff to create and share books”. When creating books, authors can change the layout and order of each page, manipulate the size, shape, font, and color of text, and insert stock clip art or their own images. Bookemon is limited in the area of multimedia, as there are no functions for inserting audio, video, and hyperlinks. Once published, the work can be shared via a hyperlink or it can be embedded into an existing Web site or wiki with a widget. The site does appear to be commercial with price quotes, but students can ignore this and use the platform for educational creativity.

StoryJumper is more suited for creating children’s story books and may be more suited to younger grades. Students can create books from a few templates or from scratch. The size and location of text can be edited, and images can be incorporated from the clip art or uploaded files. There is no method if involving multimedia and hyperlinks.

Book Builder
Book Builder’s advertisement states that teachers cans “use this site to create, share, publish, and read digital books that engage and support diverse learners according to their individual needs, interests, and skills.” Students choose a layout, add text, images, and audio, and publish their work. Book Builder also has a function allowing students to create a glossary for the work. In addition, teachers and students can create books that involve “coaches” that provide tips and additional information to the reader, and readers can type notes or ideas in a response area.

Bookrix is a free combination of social media and web based publishing that allows students to publish and share their work socially. Bookrix offers multiple book types that can be uploaded directly from your computer. These include, text that can be copied or uploaded, illustrated books and audio books. Within Bookrix, authors can create a profile & blog that can be shared with social media websites.

With Bookr you can create and share your own photobook using images from Flickr. Easily create a cover, add pages, insert images & text. This is a great option for creating online books with a shorter amount of text with image backgrounds.

Wix is a free Flash based website builder that can also be used to create impressive-looking eBooks. An extremely professional product can be created from a long list of wix templates. Many tools, widgets and embeddable multi-media options are available to choose from. As there are many options within Wix when creating a website or eBook, we suggest you consult their outstanding video tutorials to help with your project.

Publish a children’s book with Tikatok. A free teacher account allows teachers to create student accounts, create writing prompts & publish student work in traditional paper books. A unique feature is that student created storybooks can be saved as a pdf file that can be used on many e-readers. A great tool for primary grade teachers.

Click CREATE and begin to insert text, image, url, upload files, embed codes & music. Add multiple pages to the booklet & click PUBLISH when complete. No signup is required and free account users are able to save their booklets. Booklets can be shared via URL, twitter or email. Booklets can also be made 3 medium public or private.

Canva is a simple, drag-and-drop, design software that’s completely online and free to use. Students can make images, infographics, posters, and more! Instead of an eBook, why not an eBrochure? Canva’s brochure maker makes it easy to create stunning brochures by proving a suite of professionally designed templates. Learn more: https://www.canva.com/create/brochures/

eBooks Examples

Here are examples of eBooks created with resources listed above:

Video tutorials on eBooks

Bookemon Introduction (YouTube video)

Mixbook Tutorial (You Tube video)

Bookr Tutorial (YouTube video)

Creating Customized eBooks for ANY Device

Check out our app recommendations for creating eBooks for iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks, and Laptops

Along with the web based platforms described above, teachers and students can also created customized ebooks specifically for display on mobile devices like iPads or Android tablets. The process of creating eBooks is less complicated than it may appear. There are two file types that are used to create eBooks: ePub and Mobi. The iPad, iPod, iPhone all use the ePub format. You do not need any special programs for software to create either of these file types. There are web sites available that will convert your documents to the ePub filetype that can be opened and read as an eBook on an iPad, iPhone or iPod.

There are two key benefits to creating your own, customized eBooks for your class, note taking and the built in dictionary. As students are reading on their handheld device (iPad, iPhone or iPod) they have the ability to highlight text, tag pages and insert sticky notes directly on the page within the eBook. All of these notations are stored within their eBook and from the main menu of the eBook, students can exam all notations they have added to their eBook. Also, while reading, if students click on a word, they have the option to open a built in dictionary that will instantly pull up a dictionary page to clarify their understanding.

Book Creator

One of the best apps to create ePubs on iPad ($4.99 for the full version). Students and teachers can create and curate by adding text and shapes, recording audio, drawing pictures, and inserting photos as well as videos to create multimedia books. Once created, books can be exported as PDFs or ePubs to DropBox, Evernote, Drive and iBooks. It is also possible to combine books for collaborative projects.

Check out the collaborative eBook we made with teachers: What Does Awesome Look Like? An iPad Teacher Activity Book

How to Integrate eBooks

If a longer sample of written work is assigned, students can be provided with the opportunity of publishing their work electronically. Writing rubrics can be adapted for electronic publishing to include the evaluation of multimedia, hyperlinks, and other interactive aspects. When assigning eBook publishing, teachers should be aware of the time needed for students to become familiar with an individual platform.

eBooks can be integrated in history and social studies classes in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a multimedia story of a country or historical place.
  • Create a multimedia story of a historical character(s).
  • Create a multimedia book report.
  • Prepare a journey simulation in advance of a school field trip.
  • Create a multimedia magazine emulating one from a specific historical period.
  • Create a multimedia map-tour of famous historical sites.
  • Create a multimedia immigration or personal genealogical story.
  • Create a presentation based on regional artifacts and architecture.