Student using Google books for research

Using Google Books for Research

Grade Levels: All
Social Studies Strands: All

Why: (Purpose)

  • Deep Learning
    • Research provides students the opportunity to explore subjects in-depth, and gives them skills in differentiating between reliable sources
  • Higher Student Achievement
    • These free resources are available at many levels for all students, and encourage self-guided discovery
  • Student Engagement
    • The variety of resources available inspires questions, investigation, and connections for critical thinking
  • Well-Being
    • Success in learning brings more success in learning and higher positive energy

What: (Description of the Strategy)

Google Books is a resource that makes primary and secondary sources extremely accessible, and gives students opportunities to investigate and build their inquiry skills.

Google Books is available online at or through the Google Play app, and includes over 10 million free books to read and download. Google Books also includes various primary source government and community organization documents. These resources can be viewed easily online or downloaded as PDFs to share with students.

Here are just a few of the primary sources you can find there:

How: (How to set up the Strategy)

You do not need to be logged into Google to access these resources.

1. Visit

2. Enter your search in the search bar. The results listed will include full sources that are copyright-free and previews of books that still are copyrighted.

3. To find free resources, select “Free Google E-books” under the “Any books” dropdown menu.

Free Google eBooks for Teachers

3. Teachers and students can download PDFs of these sources for research.

4. As they work, remind students to:

  • Stay focused on the research.
  • Keep track of references.
  • Don’t be a distractor.
  • Work independently or collaborate.
  • Ask for help if needed.

5. As students use Google Books for research, they should learn to differentiate between secondary sources — which tell a story about an event or person — and primary sources, which come directly from that event or person.
For example, there are many books on Rosa Parks on Google Books, but to find sources from during the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, you will have to narrow your search.
(See image example)

Digital/Virtual Application of the Strategy:

Google Books supports virtual learning by supplying digital resources for students to use. It gives teachers a bank of information they can vet for students to use, download, and distribute electronically.

Face to Face Application:

The great thing about Google Books is that they can be used both virtually and in the classroom. In a face-to-face scenario, the teacher has the opportunity to immediately supply support and be sure students are able to find what they need. Downloads can also be distributed this way.

Google Books can be saved in an online library when you log in to Google. You can use this library to create collections you can refer to later, so you don’t have to search for them again.

This strategy also can be used with most graphic organizers and interactive notebooks.

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