Class Tech Tips: 11 Websites and Apps for Social Studies Reading Passages

Class Tech Tips: 11 Websites and Apps for Social Studies Reading Passages

How are you making connections between your English Language Arts instruction and the work happening in social studies? Incorporating social studies reading passages into your instruction can help you address learning goals in both subject areas. If you are teaching a lesson about the American Revolution you might share a short selection of informational text so students can discuss cause and effect in a reading passage in the context of that moment in history. If you are reading a historical fiction novel you can use short reading passages to provide additional information on notable figures or events that pop up during the course of the story.

Earlier this year I shared some favorite online resources for science reading passages (see the post here). There are a handful of great social studies reading passages organized on websites and available in mobile apps. Locating just-right resources for your classroom can be a struggle, especially when it comes to reading materials. As you begin the search for content to share with your students, you’ll want to check out the range of resources featured on this list. Make sure to scroll to the bottom for a special link to reading response tools that students can use in combination with the resources on this list.

Websites and Apps for Social Studies Reading Passages

Although we normally think of Khan Academy as being a resource for videos to share with students, their sections on social studies topics have a wealth of information. In addition to video transcripts, you can find passages to bring into your discussion of different topics in a class on history and economics.

For younger students, News-O-Matic is a go to resource for bringing current events into your classroom. If you are studying ancient civilizations, you can point students to passages that spotlight issues in different regions of the world that help students bridge the gap between past and present.

When exploring a particular period in history with your students, incorporate reading passages that tell the story of someone’s life. includes a range of biographies in the form of short passages for students to explore. You might connect the link to a QR code to make it easy for students to access specific reading material.

Newsela has a terrific website and mobile app that puts kid-friendly, leveled news articles at the fingertips of your students. You can search by keyword for a particular topic that connects to your social studies goals or check out their text set section to find articles that connect to themes in popular historical fiction novels.

The Smithsonian Magazine is available for tablets and student readers on the web. If your students are on Chromebooks you might point them to a specific article. If your students use tablets in the classroom library, you might decide to load those devices with the mobile app so students have a range of topics to explore.

The team at ReadWorks has an entire section dedicated to social studies reading passages. You’ll find a range of content at different levels. These reading selections are great if you’re looking for clear connections to your social studies learning goals.

Using Kindles in your classroom? On the Kindle App you can find a range of digital texts with both short and long reading passages to load onto a class set of Kindles (or share as a recommendation for families) I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark and Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! are two examples of books available in the Kindle format.

Using iPads in your classroom? Just like the Kindle, you can direct students to short passages or reading selections from the iBookstore. Two books you may want to check out for your iPad classroom are from the I Survived series, I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912and II Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 has lots of reading material to share with students. You might choose a selection for students to read and have them discuss this material in a backchannel using a #FormativeTech tool like Today’s Meet to facilitate the discussion.

If you’re searching for an individual app to download, you can access social studies reading passages on tablets with one of the following apps. Pearson’s World History Test Prep has readings and materials for students diving deep into world history topics. The BBC History Magazine is another app you can explore to access passages on this particular history topic.

Ready to jump into these reading websites and apps? Here are a few ideas for reading responses if you’d like to have students use digital tools to capture their thinking about what they’ve read.

Do you have a favorite I should add to this list? Don’t be shy! Add a website or app you love to the comments below.

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Monica Burns is a fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom. Visit her website at for creative education technology tips and technology lesson plans aligned to the Common Core Standards.