As more and more schools are moving away from paper textbooks and materials, teachers are working to answer the obvious question:

where can I find digital resources appropriate for kids?

If you and your building are using Mac computers or IOS devices such as iPads or iPods, at least part of the answer is the Library of Congress. The folks over there recently released six free iBooks that can be quickly downloaded and are perfect for having students interact with primary source evidence.

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Based on the Library’s Primary Source Sets, these new iBooks have built-in interactive tools that let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis.

(Aren’t an Apple school? The LOC is still an awesome place to find online and digital resources.)

The six books, designed specifically for mobile devices, also work well using the iBooks app available on most Apple desktop and laptop computers.

Find all six books here.

The cool thing about all of the books is that, once downloaded, the books act as more than just a series of documents. Students can interact with each primary source – zooming in, drawing, and answering analysis questions within the book itself.

loc ibooks zoom

loc ibooks draw

The cool thing about the analysis option is that the LOC people built in thinking / writing prompts to help kids dig deeper. It’s a great scaffolding tool.

loc ibooks analyze

There are also handy Teacher Guides available for each iBook. Find these at the main Primary Source Sets page. You’ll find extensive background and context, teaching suggestions, questions, additional resources, and citations.

The six?

The Constitution
The drafts and debates that brought the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into being, including notes by the documents’ framers.

The Dust Bowl
Songs, maps, and iconic photographs document the daily ordeals of rural migrant families during a disastrous decade.

The Harlem Renaissance
Discover some of the innovative thinkers and creative works that contributed to the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.

The immigrant experience in America from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in primary sources.

Symbols of the United States
Watch six well-known symbols of the U.S. change over the centuries. Especially for early grades.

Understanding the Cosmos
Astronomers’ depictions of the universe, from before Copernicus to after photography.