But here’s the truth: Information is free. If education is merely the act of distributing information to the next generation, then it should cost very little. If education is the empowering of the next generation, to seek knowledge then its cost should be relevant to the form of information intake each child finds most effective. Kids who learn from conversation will have less expense than kids who learn from video games, books or workshops. Still, $60,000 over the course of K-12 would leave each of these kids overstimulated, for sure.
At our house, we’re readers. We enjoy travel. Some of my kids learn a lot from videos, both short web clips and longer documentaries.
Here are some of our favorite resources we’ve found for free information:
Internet Sacred Texts Archive
We’re absolutely not religious in our house. But, the writings of religious philosophers over the years is something I find fascinating. Whenever we want a “deeper look” at something, we find that religious texts provide such a diverse range of perspectives, when we examine them globally. At the ISTA, you’ll find writings from all over the world, throughout all of history. The entire collection is available in disc form, as well.
This site is a project by Iowa State University “where hundreds of writers, editors and scholars gather to publish over 35,000 works free of charge” (from their homepage). “Our collections include art, architecture, drama, fiction, poetry, history, political theory, cultural studies, philosophy, women’s studies and music. We publish journals, disseminate information of use to scholars such as our Calls for Papers and Academy sites, and host public web pages for local projects” (From their ‘about’ page).
The coolest thing about this site is that it has current, recently published books and excerpts. It’s not just the same public domain texts available everywhere.
I absolutely love Librivox. My iPod is filled with audio books now. I love being able to listen to the classics, famous speeches and poetry because I don’t always have time to read. Generally, I listen in the car or when I’m cleaning the house. The only issue I have with librivox is that the readers are not professionals, some of their voices are irritating, either monotonous or nonsense inflections (like the woman who ends every sentence on a high note). But they’re volunteers and if you don’t like the way they’ve recorded it, you’re welcome to record your own. Some books on the site are available from several different speakers and after a while you’ll recognize the voices of the ones you love (like the gravelly old man from the UK) and the ones you prefer not to listen to.
The Online Books Page
This site is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania and is updated several times a week. Their blog, Everybody’s Library showcases public domain legal events and discusses internet-based book collections
Project Gutenberg and the Internet Public Library
These are probably the most popular resources for public-domain texts. Much like a library, you can search or browse by Dewey Decimal System call number, author or topic.
SO… what’s YOUR favorite resource for free books online?