Reading is a fantastic activity for children of all ages. Books can teach kids new information about the world, better literacy and communication skills, and fundamental truths about what it means to be human.
For many parents, creating home libraries full of new books can be prohibitively expensive. Luckily, many programs exist to provide kids with free books.
Read on to learn about some great places where you can find free books for kids.
Where Can You Find Free Children’s Books?
Many programs and resources stock free children’s books. To figure out the right place to look, you have to start by deciding what types of books you’re looking for.
If your kid has access to an e-reader, for example, you can look at online options. If your kid wants to read traditional print books, on the other hand, you’ll have to find a program that either mails you books or allows you to check books out in person.
Also, if your child wants the freedom to write notes in the margins or to dog-ear pages, you’ll need to find free books they can keep, rather than ones that need to be returned.
So, let’s look at ten options you can consider, depending on which factors apply.
4 Places to Find Free Kids’ Books in Print
Let’s start with some great places where you can find free and inexpensive kids’ books in print.
1. Your Local Library
Many local libraries have a great selection for young readers. Most even have separate sections for picture books, books for early readers, and books for older kids.
Plus, taking your kid to the library to pick out a stack of books for the next few weeks can be a fun outing. You can spend a whole afternoon browsing through the shelves together.
2. Little Free Libraries
A Little Free Library is a book-sharing box where anyone can take a book or leave a book. There are currently over 150,000 Little Free Libraries registered around the world in over 120 countries.
You can enter your zip code on the Little Free Library website to see if there’s one nearby. If there isn’t, you can apply for a free book-sharing box so you can start your own.
3. Book Banks
Many communities have book banks, which give books away for free.
Some book banks partner with schools to distribute books, while others are open to the public. There might be a cap on how many books you can take at a time, just like with a library, but the difference is that you don’t have to bring it back.
4. Summer Reading Programs
Many organizations host summer reading programs that give away free books as prizes. Enrolling your kids in one of these programs can encourage reading while also giving them new books to keep.
For example, Barnes & Noble will offer a free book to any kid who finishes reading eight books, and Half Price Books will give a $5 gift card to kids who read 300 minutes a month.
3 Places to Get Free Books for Kids by Mail
For many families, receiving books in the mail is easier and more accessible than picking up books in person. Here are three ways you can get books in the mail.
5. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Country singer Dolly Parton created a program called Imagination Library in 1995. Looking for free toddler books? The Imagination Library mails one free book a month to any child under the age of 5.
The program is active in the US, Canada, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia, and it’s completely free to use.
You can to see if they ship books to you. If not, you can apply to start your own local chapter.
6. Social Media Sites
Social media sites like Facebook are full of people looking to give away things they no longer need. Facebook Marketplace has many parent groups where parents can exchange used books, games, and toys.
You can browse these marketplaces to see if anything is available. The selection might be limited depending on who’s posting at any given moment, but it’s easy to ask people on social media sites to mail you books for a low cost, or, if they live nearby, to simply drop them off at your door.
7. First Book Marketplace
First Book Marketplace is an organization that many publishers donate kids’ books to.
The organization will mail kids’ books to First Book members for free. All you have to do is cover shipping costs and handling costs, which can often be very inexpensive, depending on where you live.
3 Places to Find Free Books for Kids Online
If your child is open to reading books online instead of only reading print books, there are countless options on the internet you can consider.
ManyBooks is a website that offers a large selection of free digital books. They don’t have many options for toddlers and elementary school kids, but they do have a robust young adult selection for teens.
So, if you’re looking for a free online library for older kids, this can still be a great option to consider.
9. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg offers free eBooks that anyone can download.
The downside is that they only carry books in the public domain, which means they usually don’t stock new releases. Still, this website can be a great way to expose your children to classics, such as L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
A website called eReaderIQ tells you which free books you can access on Amazon at any given time.
Most of these books are only free for a limited time, so you should check regularly to see if there are new options.
Best Free Book Programs
There you have it—our top recommendations for the best free book programs for kids. Hopefully these options will help you find inexpensive children’s books for any age group.
Good luck, and happy reading!