Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books

Two children, a girl and her little brother on a boardwalk.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder
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What’s better than curling up with a good book?

Or, better yet, a series of books? “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Baby-Sitters Club” or “The Boxcar Children,” anyone?

But books can get pricy. How can you find books for your little ones to read without spending a fortune?

By getting free books, of course.

While it’s great to support authors whenever possible, sometimes buying new books just isn’t in the family budget — and you don’t want to deprive your kids of the love of reading

How to Get Free Books for Kids

Use these strategies to get free books for kids. Some are physical books and others are PDFs or ebooks, but they all offer great ways to give kids access to a wide variety of reading material — without spending a cent.

1. Imagination Library

Dolly Parton loves reading so much, she wants every child to have the opportunity.

In 1995, the country music superstar started Imagination Library to give free books to children in her home county in Tennessee. She wanted to help preschool-aged children develop a love of reading, even if their families couldn’t afford books.

In 2000, she expanded the program, partnering with local communities to send more than 60 million books to kids in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Local partners include preschool programs, libraries and service organizations along with many other groups.

To get free books for your child, check the program availability in your area, then follow the instructions to get registered.

2. Free Kids Books

Download free PDFs from this online library of kids’ books.

With picture books for toddlers, books with pictures and words for bigger kids and chapter books for young adults, this site has something for everyone. You can even get coloring books.

The site recommends printing the PDFs and stapling the pages together — or reading them on a tablet or other electronic device.

Titles include classics like “The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse” by Beatrix Potter and  newer ones like “Wilbur the Lost Whale,” about a whale who reunites with his family in a conservation area.

3. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Kids in first through sixth grades can earn a free book by filling out the Summer Reading Journal.

Just have your kids read eight books and write about their favorite parts of each one in the journal. Bring the journal into a local Barnes & Noble between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, and your kids can pick out a book from a selected list.

4. Read Conmigo

A young girl reads a book while sitting on a bench in a park.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Immerse your children in pre-k through fifth grade bilingual reading by signing up for Read Conmigo.

If you live in California, Florida or Texas, the program will mail you a book every four months.

Online resources like bilingual activities and educational tools are available to everyone, regardless of location. The program also offers free ebooks that are compatible with most Apple iOS, Amazon Kindle and Android devices.

More than 108,000 parents have signed up for the program since it started in 2011.

5. Little Free Libraries

Neighborhoods all over the country are adding Little Free Libraries. These small shelves allow people to share books and always have something new to read.

Find a free library near you, leave a book you’ve finished and grab a new one to share. Different libraries will have different offerings.

6. Craigslist, Freecycle and Facebook

If you’re looking for some kids’ books, why not put up a “wanted” post on Craigslist, Freecycle or even Facebook? Plenty of people have books they’re not using and would be happy to share, but it’s not on their minds unless you ask.

7. Libraries

Of course, your local public library has plenty of books to borrow for free. This is a great option for families who like to constantly switch up their reading selections.

But some libraries will even have books you can keep, such as older books they’re planning on tossing out.

Ask your local librarian if they may have any available.

How to Get Free Online Books for Kids

Ebooks are increasingly becoming more popular with readers, and that includes young ones.  Here are several sites where you can find free online books for kids.

8. Amazon Free Books

Amazon has a ton of free kids’ books available for Kindle downloads.

Just search for “children’s books, Kindle edition” and sort price “low to high” to see all the freebies.

Plenty of books are available to download, from “Wiggly the Worm” to “Diary of a Private School Kid.” 

A couple of other sites also make it easy to find free kids books in Kindle format, including eReaderIQ and Goodreads.

9. Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Amazon Prime members can borrow books for free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows users to borrow one book each calendar month. The program offers a wide range of kids’ books to pick from, but you’ll need a Kindle (and a Prime membership) to read them.

10. Project Gutenberg

While mostly for older kids, Project Gutenberg has a wealth of free downloads available.

Type “children” in the search field and classic kids’ books will appear, from “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” to “Peter Pan” to “Anne of Green Gables” and many other favorites.

The site offers a total of over 59,000 ebooks to download for free, including many books for kids.

11. ManyBooks

Launched in 2004, ManyBooks aims to create an extensive library of digital books that are available for free on the internet. The site adds new books on a near-daily basis, including an entire section dedicated to kids’ books

The books are available for download in a variety of formats and can also be read on the site itself using ManyBooks’ online ereader.

12. Free Children Stories

The founders of Free Children Stories set up the site in 2008 as a way of offering quality storytelling to every child, parent or teacher with internet access. The site has a variety of books for all ages, and even offers audio readings of the books for kids who like having a grown-up read to them.

13. Read.gov

The Library of Congress has put dozens of classic kids books online for free, including “Anne of Green Gables” and “White Fang.” The ebooks can be read using the Library’s online e-reader, and the ebooks themselves are scans of the original books held in the library’s collection.

14. International Children’s Digital Library

The International Children’s Digital Library was established to provide a collection of digital children’s books from around the world. It contains more than 4,600 books in 59 languages, including Spanish, French, Farsi and even Mongolian.

Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Editor Caitlin Constantine contributed to this post.