educator helping student with laptop - mask covid

Alternative Reading Formats for Educators 

Joey Mathis is a First Book Marketing and Communication intern. She is currently an undergrad student at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

The First Book Marketplace is home to a large selection of educational resources available at affordable prices to the members of our Network. We strive to address the equity gap by providing brand-new, high-quality items for children in low-income classrooms and communities. We offer thousands of physical books in various genres, as well as school supplies, digital learning resources, games, and activities.  

The Marketplace is also home to alternative reading formats for educators and students. Our selection of audio books and eBooks help bridge the digital divide and allow students to work on their literacy skills at their own pace inside and outside of the classroom. These alternative reading formats include a variety of popular titles to help these students engage in the same conversations as their peers.  

educator helping student with laptop - mask covid

Audio Books 

Since their creation, audio books have become an increasingly popular mode of reading for all ages. Audio book sites and players are used as an alternative to traditional paper format books. Their popularity can be attributed to their versatility as they allow readers to have the book read to them. This can be helpful for those who have trouble with processing the words as they are read on the page. They can also change reading from a sedentary activity to a mobile as listeners, if they choose to, can continue other tasks while the book plays. 

The audio books on the Marketplace are available through the innovative and adaptable Playaway device. The Playaway is a pre-loaded, ready to use audio book device that holds up to 60 hours of high-definition Audio. It also offers five narration speeds for increased personalization. Students can listen to these devices without an internet connection in class or at home. 


Electronic books, or eBooks, have become another alternative to traditional paper format books. They can be adaptations of print books or originally published through an electronic format. Their function as an alternative reading format stems from their adaptability and transportability. eBooks can be read on online platforms such as websites or mobile apps, or they can be downloaded to be available offline. 

First Book has partnered with Open eBook, a free eBook library app. Through this partnership, a continuously evolving catalog of eBooks are available in the classroom and at home with students. Members of First Book’s Network can purchase up to 500 unique access codes and linked pin numbers per order to share with their students’ families. These access codes and pins then allow students and their families to set up an individual Open eBook account to start reading. On this app, up to 30 eBooks can be checked into a student’s personal library to be downloaded and read offline. Just like the physical library, there are due dates to return each eBook, but they can also be renewed. The best part is the access codes/pins never expire, even when the student moves on to a different educator, school, or program! 

Join Our Network 

Creating an account with our Network takes about five minutes and gives you access to resources like audio books, eBooks, thousands of brand-new high-quality physical books, and beyond! Eligible educators and other supporting staff can register for free today.  

image of a young woman laying in the grass, smiling and reading a book. There is light blue boxes with purple text that say, 'Share Your Favorite Summer Read for Our New Online Album. Take a selfie with your favorite summer read and upload it by July 22 to celebrate our First Book family and the work we’re doing together! Send your selfie.'