Reading is fundamental to our lives. It’s a huge part of how we learn, how we teach, how we communicate, and how we entertain. It’s great when kids love to explore new worlds through books, and confident readers can expect to have more academic and career success in life.
Still, stocking a home library of books to enjoy can get expensive. Whether your child loves chapter books, digital stories, audiobooks, or graphic novels, there are great ways to get free books for your kids in any and all formats.
Check out these ways to stock your library to make sure your family always has engaging stories to enjoy at home.
Free Children’s Books for Your Home Library
Studies show that providing plenty of books for children to read can set them up for lifelong success. This book-socialization gives families access to stories when they want them and creates an environment where reading is valued and encouraged. A good collection of physical books at home is a great way to set the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.
1. Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has given over 150 million books to children since 1995. This program provides free books for children under six years old in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. There are no income requirements to enroll and families receive a new book each month.
2. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Journal
Grade school children can get a free book by completing Barnes and Noble’s summer reading journal. Children in grades one through six must read eight books and share their favorite part, then they can choose a free book from Barnes and Noble’s pre-approved list.
3. Your Local Library
Of course, your local library is always a great resource for free books and magazines at any age. You can check out books to bring home and make visiting the library a weekly habit. This way you never get late fees, your family can enjoy their many free programs, and your children never out-grow their stories.
4. Little Free Libraries
Little free libraries are popping up around the country and they’re great for clearing out your shelves and collecting new books. They can often be found at schools, parks, and other public places, as well as in friendly neighbor’s yards.
5. Facebook and Freecycle
Online communities like Freecycle and local Facebook “free and for-sale” pages are great places to collect books for free or at extreme discounts. Not only can you collect books here, but these sites are a great way for you to clean up your own shelf and give other families free books.
6. Book Banks
Book banks are available online and run by a variety of organizations and for different causes. Many book banks have arrangements with publishers to sell or give away books to specific communities or classrooms. Others work locally with donors to fund book programs for children.
Search for online book banks you may qualify for, as well as local programs that may already be serving your neighborhood.
7. Half-Price Books’ Summer Reading Program
Half-Price Books’ Feed Your Brain summer reading program offers gift cards to kids who read and review books on the online store. One winner is awarded a $50 gift card each day of the program.
8. End-of-Year Library Inventories
School and public libraries will update their inventory at least once a year and clear out any books that have significant damage, low reader interest, or new editions coming out. Check with your librarian to see if you can get any of the books they’re throwing away.
Free Online Books for Kids
Phones, tablets, and Kindles make it easier than ever to collect new books and read on the go. Digital editions are often cheaper than physical books and take up none of the space a large library would. If you and your family prefer digital reading, here are some great places to get free online books for kids.
9. Reading is Fundamental
Reading is Fundamental is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing literacy in children and teens. Their site offers access to free e-books and worksheets to help inspire a passion for reading. They also offer free resources for teachers.
10. Libby and OverDrive Library Apps
Libby, OverDrive, and other library apps allow you to borrow books digitally with your local library card. Many of these apps also allow you to check out audiobooks so you can enjoy a new story no matter your reading preference.
11. Read Conmigo
Read Conmigo has a library of free e-books in Spanish and English, perfect for bilingual children and those learning a second language.
12. Amazon Free Books
Amazon offers a variety of free ebooks for any age and genre and regularly cycles through the list to add fresh finds. Read them on your Kindle or use the Kindle app on your phone or tablet. Prime members can get even more free books.
13. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is an online library of free books for all ages. These books are public domain and many won’t be picture books, but they’re great for growing readers learning to love chapter books.
ManyBooks is another free online library of classic stories for all ages. Explore favorites like The Wizard of Oz and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for free anywhere and any time.
15. Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has free literature ebooks online that are categorized by age and easy to sort. They have additional resources including book lists, author letters, and more.
Free Audiobooks for Kids
Audiobooks are great for little readers learning phonics and can inspire a love of stories before they’re able to read. Of course, they’re great for older kids to learn vocabulary from and are accessible to everyone.
16. Sync Audiobooks for Teens
Sync has a great library of free audiobooks to enjoy, though they are geared to a teen audience. They can be accessed in a browser or through apps, so they’re easy to take on the go.
LibriVox offers a collection of stories available in audiobook or ebook formats. These books are public domain, so they’re best for children who enjoy chapter books.
Spotify has a nice collection of audiobooks read by authors and known actors. Check out the “word” genre to browse audiobooks, and consider searching for storytime podcasts for creative tales and entertaining readings.
19. Storyline Online
Storyline Online hosts well-known voice actors reading beloved picture books for free online. Enjoy Sean Astin reading A Bad Case of the Stripes, or Wanda Sykes’ rendition of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.
StoryNory has free recordings of fairy tales, poems, classic myths, and more. All of their stories are available on an app, too, so you can take your favorite tales with you.
No matter how you like to read, there are plenty of opportunities to collect free books, games, and resources for every age. Fill your home and digital library and inspire a love of reading for a lifetime.