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Free Books and References for English Students


Padres:   (¿Prefiera leer este Website en español?)


Free E-Books and Literature Sources

All literature sites below feature works that are safely in the public domain, so you may safely view and download for pleasure reading and research.


Project Gutenberg E-Books OnlineProject Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks, and their mission is simply to encourage creation and distribution of public-domain literature to the public.  If you already know what you are looking for, click on “search our database” or use one of the other searchable engines on this page.


The Online Books Page   Links to over 20,000 downloadable free, online, complete, public-domain works of literature.  “The Online Books Page is a website that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all.”  Includes special collections such as A Celebration of Women Writers, Banned Books Online (a special exhibit of books that have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts – check and you’ll be surprised at what makes the list, including “Little Red Riding Hood”), and Prize-Winning Books including Newbery Award, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners.


Eldritch Press is unique for cataloguing its collection in a very approachable outline format, and easy to browse.  Mostly American works.


Bartleby's List of Works by Primary Authors -- Sometimes having a list of works and authors readily available in front of you makes the task of selecting something new (out of what's old) a whole lot easier.  Bartleby does it again. Care to compare the Baghva-Gita, the Bible, and the Koran? Download a little Turgenev or  Balzac?  This site makes it very, VERY easy. 


If you are interested in Banned Books Online and issues related to First Amendment Rights/Freedom of Speech, you might be interested in Indecent Images, which is a gallery of pre-Raphaelite art and other classic works that the American Communications Decency Act would not permit online (some of them with Shakespearean themes, by the way). 


Research sources from the National Academy Press are generally NOT literary, but include every area of contemporary thought and research from behavioral science to public policy, physical sciences to urban development, and every conceivable matter in between.  Specializes in science, engineering, and health, this site contains over 3,000 free e-books.


Your Local Public Library is, these days, a pretty inefficient source of both books and information. To begin with, it may be a pretty building, but there aren't a lot of books there if you just want to browse. Second of all, even if you find a book and order it, it gets delivered to the library, but you don't know when, and you'll be notified by a strange disembodied voice via telephone .... MAYBE.  So good luck. But no list of free access to literature would be complete without it!



Listen UP!   (Audio Books)


A Whole Page of Free Audio Books Just for You Because I Love You!



Free Access to Specific Authors


Links to Shakespeare Plays and Poetry Found Here -- The link to Mrs. Leserman's Shakespeare Page


Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe  -- Shakespeare's contemporary, and in many respects wrote better material than Shakespeare did, but came to an untimely death.  I'm a huge fan.  Seniors will be studying him!


The John Milton Homepage -- Beautiful poetry, culturally a cornerstone.  Beautiful site


Renascence Editions -- an online repository of works printed in English between 1477 and 1799, all for free -- including many works, obviously, by Shakespeare's contemporaries.  Very worthwhile!


Words! Words!  Words!


Visual Thesaurus by Thinkmap is great for visual thinkers.  Any thesaurus will help you write better by giving you a greater variety of word choices and greater understanding of the meaning of the word -- This one is also fun and beautiful to look at! 


Greek and Latin Roots of English Program  -- Download and install this free program, which will be absolutely indispensable to you as you complete your vocabulary and spelling assignments. Explains Greek and Latin roots of English words, in glorious detail.  A remarkable treasure. Be sure to place a link directly on your desktop, because you will require it at least weekly.


Dictionary and Thesaurus – both services, free and thorough, and simply the best available on the web or anywhere else.  The dictionary usually provides at least three sources for each word, an audible sound guide, usage notes, examples.  The thesaurus is the most thorough imaginable. 


Babel Fish Translation Service – quick, on-the-spot translation from and into twenty languages or more.  A lot of mistakes made in the process, but very useful if you’re wandering into foreign sites and would like some idea of what is written.  Not reliable if you’re planning to translate critically important material and leave it at that!  Still has to be checked by a person.


The Word Spy -- devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases. These aren't "stunt words" or "sniglets," but new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources.  Sort of the Oxford English Dictionary of new usage -- sample of how it's used, earliest usage, etc.  New terms come into language and fit so naturally that their meaning is usually obvious to everyone:  bardolotry, cyberscryber, internetese, drive-by editing -- can you guess what these mean?


Phrase Dictionary – Looking for the meaning or origin of a phrase or saying?  Look up or browse over 2,000 English expressions, post a question  and get a reply to something more obscure.  Fascinating history of common everyday expressions.


Literature Terms Definition, explanation, and examples of literary and rhetorical terms by category: general literary terms, terms from narrative genres, rhetorical language, and poetic tools.  From Aubad to Wit, and everything in between. 


Internet Anagram Server -- An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word of phrase, e.g. Elvis ---> lives; or Parliament ---> partial men; or Amy Leserman ----> alarms enemy; or English teacher ---> leeches ingather AND lengthier chase AND ghastlier hence.... Plug in YOUR name or desired career and see what you come up with, just for fun.


Wikipedia -- a brilliant communal encyclopaedic dictionary, not to be missed.  Encyclopedic explanations of words, with full links.  Hard to describe, sorry!


Writing a Bibliography -- Mrs. Leserman's own page


Collective nouns


Make Your Own Film with D-Film's fabulous tool and very cool website.  Highly recommended. Bet you'll be doing more than one of these!


International Directory of Dictionaries -- Find a dictionary in any one of more than 300 languages, and translate into or out of English. 


Classic! Andrew Wilson's Site on Classic Greek and Latin Languages, Literatures, Cultues and Civilizations -- includes fantastic games to reteach the Odyssey, the Iliad, Antigone, Medea, and this is the only site I know of online where a classics scholar will respond, nicely to your emailed questions and give you a meaningful reply! 

Grammar and Expression

A Free Online Course in English Grammar – Written primarily for university undergraduates, but accessible for high school level on up through graduate school (in my opinion).  I used this program to refresh for my subject-level exams to teach English, so I consider is very reliable. 


Big Dog’s Grammar – A much simpler program than the course above, and friendlier and easier to use, but fewer details.  The bare essentials of English grammar.  “A bare bones guide to English” and extremely accessible. 


Grammar Bytes -- Detailed explanations of grammar terms, with examples; exercises, and worksheets if you would like to practice.  A thorough, easily searchable guide.



POETRY SOURCES Poetry Search and Anthologies -- With thousands of poems by hundreds of authors, offers one of the largest free collections of verse (written in English) on the web.  Even their anthologies are a pleasure to go through (Edgar Lee Master's "Spoon River Anthology" is one of my favorites).  Easy to search by author, phrase, line.


The Academy of American Poets -- Find a poet, find a poem, listen to one being performed, learn about poetry events in our area. (For teachers, the Online Poetry Classroom )


Poetry Daily -- exactly as described, a new, contemporary poem daily, with a link to information about the author, and the source in which it was originally published


Poetry 180 - Poem a Day for American High Schools -- A stroke of genius from our Library of Congress, this site provides links to 180 poems appropriate and suitable for American high school students, enough for them to have one every day of an academic school year.  I believe it rotates annually and is regularly updated.


American Poems includes a rich archive of classical and contemporary American poetry, including most frequently read poems and biographies of poets. 


BBC’s “DIY Poetry Kit” – A VERY Cool PROGRAM for creating poetry!  Click on the link under “build your own poem,” to try the program. Read other peoples’ poems here. 


Animated Poetry -- John Hegley got together with the RCA Animation students to bring one of John's poems to life. You click on the highlighted word to view the animation.




How to Survive If You're Ever Homeless -- Obviously I'm not advocating becoming homeless, but this man's fascinating account of becoming homeless, and how he managed in Los Angeles, is amazing reading.


Learn Spanish -- But turn your sound way up high first


Nigel and Trevor -- what goofy British schoolboys do for fun.  Really this has nothing whatsoever to do with learning English except that the characters in the cartoons are English, but I like this website a great deal.  Requires Flash player. 


Primary Sources for Holocaust Research -- Exactly what it says --  huge page of links for primary sources, and a bibliography. 




Email the teacher at awl 6753 @ lausd . net (without the spaces)