This is How to Get Free Books for Kids
These 12 sites are offering free books, e-books, and magazines for kids to have fun reading at home during the coronavirus quarantine.
While libraries are slowly reopening for curbside pickup, your family may not be ready to venture out to public places just yet. While we’re ordering a few books of our own from our local, independent bookstores, there are many nonprofits and educational apps that have put free reading material for kids online. Plus, there are online libraries that offer digital access to their entire literary collections. Keep your kids reading new books while they’re cooped up at home. After all, it may just be the perfect time to expand their minds—and their vocabularies.
Overdrive, the company which brought us Libby, has partnered with the Department of Education to offer a new way for kids in grades 3-12 to read hundreds of great books for free. Download the Sora app (or access via a web browser), then log in with your student DOE ID. Check out discoversora.com/nyc for more information and to get started. Need help finding your student DOE login? Click here. If you received an iPad from DOE, it will have the Sora app automatically installed by July 1!
More than 800,000 titles are available in audio, audio plus highlighted text, braille, large font, and other formats for people with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers on Bookshare. The books can be accessed on any device, and it’s a free service for students who qualify (for others it’s less than $1 a month.)
Libby, an app by Overdrive, provides access to your local public library’s collection (including audio books). After entering a code from your library, you can borrow up to 5 books at a time, which you have two weeks to read (or renew). For kids there are even zoomable graphic novels, and picture books that come with read-along audio.
Brooklyn Public Library
Thanks to Overdrive, there are 20,000 books available through Brooklyn Public Library’s online library, including many popular kid’s books. Teens can also practice for their SATS or learn about social issues like climate change. All you need is a library card to log in—then download to your phone, tablet, or e-reader.
Oxford Owl is a British site from Oxford University Press that offers free books for kids ages 3-11. In addition to learning games and activities in other subjects, the library is excellent and filterable by age. Plus, there are articles for parents about how to help kids become better readers.
This easily navigable site has a large collection of books for ages 3-13, including picture, chapter, and audio books in different languages. Plus, MagicBlox adds new books every week, and its helpful categories, including award-winners and trending now, may persuade your young reader to try new books.
International Children’s Digital Library
The International Children’s Digital Library is a nonprofit that has collected children’s literature from around the world. While you can’t download books and many are in other languages, this is a fascinating exploration for you and your kids to see first publications of classic books and original manuscripts from all over the world.
As part of the nonprofit Internet Archive, Open Library is continually updating its collection of links to free books—including more than 20,000 titles for children, including just-released books and classics.
The site that has replaced actual bookshelves also offers free children’s books. Choose from Goodreads’ collection of books you can download free of charge, or find some children’s titles on the books tagged as “free online.”
TIME for Kids
While not actual books, TIME for Kids magazine and Your $, the financial literacy magazine for kids, are great reading options that are now available for free every week—along with previously published issues, educational resources, and activities.
Alice’s Kids, a national charity that provides targeted financial assistance to children in need, just started Alice’s Library, where any child in the U.S. can receive three specific books by sending an email to [email protected]. The library will order the books on Amazon and ship directly to the kid’s house, free of charge.
The new app, Rivet, provides access to more than 3,500 free, digital books for kids across 14 categories and eight reading levels. After teaming up with well-known YouTube creators, Rivet created books based on popular video content. It also uses games and rewards, and provides kids AI support and feedback on every page, along with a personalized library.