Children’s books: we love them, we cherish them… we’ve probably spent a small fortune on them.
It’s understandable. If you’re a parent, you want to instill a love of books to your kids by offering them plenty of choices to read, read, and read some more. You can definitely do this without breaking the bank or having piles of books somehow congregate in the corners of your child’s room.
There are so many free websites you can take advantage of that will help you save money and even manage the number of books in your home (thanks to ebooks).
A few sites that offer free ebooks are funded by non-profits or the government to give more kids access to reading materials. Their mission involves education and stressing the importance of reading.
What Do These Free eBook Sites Offer?
Each site is slightly different. Some allow you to read an ebook directly from the browser, while others let you download them into a PDF document to read later. Many require you to register in order to access their free library.
The first section highlights the best resources for finding free books online and the second focuses on resources that offer free books locally.
21 Options for Free Online Books
eReaderIQ is a helpful site that tells you which books from Amazon are completely free. They list the books based on category, books available through Kindle, books under $1, and current freebies.
The search filter also allows for you to see the time frame in which books have been offered for free. The books listed on this site are free for a limited time. This means you should make sure the price that says “$0.00” or filter through “current freebies” before you download.
Goodreads is an awesome resource for free children’s books. At the time of writing, the site has almost 250 completely free books for kids, including many classics.
If you see a book you want to read, click on “Want to Read” and then sign in with your Amazon or Facebook account.
Goodreads is also a great way to see what books are popular and read book reviews from others.
3. Free Children’s Stories
FreeChildrensStories.com is a cute website that shows you free books based on what’s appropriate for each age. They are broken down by ages:
When you click on a book, it takes you right to the book so you can read it on your browser. Because of this, it may be helpful if you have a tablet so you can easily read to your child.
4. iBooks (iTunes)
If you own a Mac or an iOS device, you can use iBooks to find free titles. The iBook store features over 2.5 million ebooks and many of them are free.
Just open the iBooks app and filter by free titles and then select the “children’s books” category.
I love Overdrive and I can’t live without it. It’s a free app that I use on a daily basis.
OverDrive is tied to your library card so if you want to access books for free, get a library card! You can download up to 10 books and titles expire after 21 days.
The thing I love most about OverDrive is that once the titles expire, you can immediately rent another book. They don’t make you wait until the next month to check out new books.
Tip: If you love audiobooks, check out our hacks and tips to listen for free.
Hoopla is another free app that ties to your local library card. You can borrow up to four titles each month. Once it expires, you have to wait until the following month to rent new titles, so it’s not as flexible as OverDrive.
In order to foster a healthy love of reading to future generations, the Library of Congress offers free children’s books for free online. Like many of the other sites, you simply search for the book by category and then click on the book to read it online.
Read.gov has a lot of classics such as books by Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
You need to post the review on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.
MagicBlox.com lets you borrow one book a month for free but have the option to upgrade to a paid subscription ($5 a month for unlimited).
The site is nicely laid out and easy to navigate through. They offer a ton of ebooks for kids and the site is updated daily from their global Creator Community of authors and publishers.
You need to register in order to start reading.
9. Cloud Library
Just like Overdrive or Hoopla, Cloud Library connects to local libraries in order for you to access their ebooks and audiobooks. You can do a quick search to see if your library uses it.
ManyBooks.net offers free and discounted books. The site doesn’t have a children’s section, but you can try searching through the “classic” section to find titles for older kids.
11. Children’s Books Online
For classic children’s books, ChildrensBooksOnline.org offers books and breaks them down based on age group. The books are listed as links and when you click on it, a group of jpgs appear. Each jpg is its own page.
Biliomania.com has thousands of books, poems, articles, and short stories. Many of the titles are classics from authors such as Anton Chekov, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens.
13. United for Literacy
UnitedForLiteracy.com is a site run by educators and writers who want to make reading accessible for kids. They have hundreds of digital books that are completely free and even have narrations in multiple languages.
DigiLibraries.com has free ebooks that you can download. To find the children’s books, go to “Juvenile Fiction” or “Juvenile Non-Fiction.”
15. International Children’s Digital Library
The International Children’s Digital Library was started to create a digital library of children’s books from all over the world. The collection of books currently includes almost 5,000 books in 59 languages. The vast majority (53 percent) of books are in English.
16. Oxford Owl
OxfordOwl.co.uk is a UK-based website that offers a free collection of ebooks geared to kids aged 3-11. They currently have over 150 tablet-friendly ebooks available.
You need to register with your personal information in order to start reading.
17. Open Library
OpenLibrary.org is an open, editable library catalog that offers more than 3 million ebooks. You can borrow one copy at a time for two weeks from their Lending Library.
The library features a lot of classics such as “Alice and Wonderland” and “Gulliver’s Travels.” When searching for titles for kids, look for juvenile literature or juvenile fiction.
18. Kids World Fun
If you’re looking for fun animated kids books that are completely free, check out KidsWorldFun.com. You have the option of downloading the book or reading it online.
19. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is an awesome free resource for books, including children’s books. You search for a title based on category.
If you’re interested in a book, the site offers a few ways to download the book, including saving it to your Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive account. It also has a Kindle version, plain text, and HTML file.
20. Imagination Library
Country legend Dolly Parton started non-profit Imagination Library for kids under the age of 5 to receive one book a month for free. The books are mailed with the child’s name on the mailing label.
Keep in mind the program is only free for families with kids under the age of 5 and living in participating coverage areas. If you happen to live in an area that is covered, you have to register with your personal information.
21. Free Kids Books
FreeKidsBooks.org is a simple website that shows you a list of free books. They also have reviews from readers and the appropriate age range for the book.
You can also get PDF versions or read them online.
4 Book Swapping Sites
If you already have a lot of books and want to minimize the clutter in your home, consider swapping them out for free. There are a number of free book swapping sites that you can use. You first need to create an account and then list the books you’re willing to send to someone else.
Tip: If you really want to minimize the number of books taking up space in your home, swapping out one book at a time may not be the fastest way. Consider using BookScouter and Booksrun to get sell your books.
When your book is requested, you need to ship it out at your own cost, and then you can request a book from anyone else on the site for free. Each site operates a little differently, so make sure to read over the requirements before you join.
BookMooch.com works on a points system. You receive points when you mail your books to others. You use your points to request books from others.
23. Books Free Swap
BooksFreeSwap.com costs around $3.28 to receive most books. You need to pay for your own shipping when someone requests a book from you.
24. PaperBack Swap
PaperBackSwap.com is the largest book club and offers over a million books available for swap.
BookCrossing.com operates differently than the rest of the sites listed here. You use this site to “let your books go into the wild” (i.e. a park bench or cafe) for a stranger to find.
They also give you a “controlled release” option to another member of the site, which is essentially the same thing as swapping.
You can then track where your book goes via journal entries from around the world.
5 Places to Find Free Children’s Books Locally
26. Your Neighborhood Library
Your local library is such a treasure, it pains me to think about all the people who don’t take advantage of it! If you love flipping through an actual book rather than the digital version, nothing beats free books like your local library.
You should also ask when your library will have their next book sale. You can probably score great deals!
Freecycle.org is a network of people in your community who care about recycling and reusing. They have over 9 million members around the world.
You can search through Craigslist’s “free” section to see if anyone is throwing out their collection of books.
29. Local Thrift Stores
While these options aren’t free, they’re incredibly cheap resources to find children’s books.
30. Used Bookstores
When is the last time you strolled into your local used bookstore? The one by my apartment has a huge $1 section and even has a box of free books every now and then.
Are Free Sites Worth It?
While it’s hard to complain about free, there are a few things that you should think about when using free sites for books.
For one, the websites that offer free ebooks aren’t very robust. They are sometimes difficult to navigate through.
Many of the sites offer free books online, which means you need to read it directly from your browser. This is fine if you have a tablet. If you don’t have a tablet, it may be clunky to read to your child from a desktop or laptop.
There’s also a lack of titles. While you probably won’t have problems finding the classics, any new books won’t be available for your child’s reading pleasure.
The bottom line to using free sites for books is to not be picky. However, if you are picky and care about new titles, you may want to consider paying for a subscription.
Free vs. Paid Subscription
Consider a subscription to Kindle Unlimited which is $9.99 and gives you access to millions of ebooks, magazines, and thousands of audiobooks.
You can get “unlimited” access, which means you can rent up to 10 titles at a time. If your household consists of lots of readers who constantly crave new books, this is a wonderful option.
There’s also Scribd, which is similar to Kindle Unlimited but slightly less expensive. Their monthly membership is $8.99. I’ve used both subscriptions and highly recommend both. If you’re on the fence, test out their 30-day free trial and see which one you like better.
By far, the best free resource to use is your local library for free books, ebook, and audiobook rentals. I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t take advantage of their local libraries!
If you already use the library and just want additional resources, check out each site and decide which ones you like best. Write them down in the order of best to worst.
If you don’t live near a library or look through the sites and find they aren’t to your liking, a paid subscription to Scribd or Audible might be better suited for your needs.
So, as the adage goes… the best things in life are free — including books!
What’s your best method for getting free children’s books online?