While I love reading and supporting authors, I’ve also been broke a lot in the past and wondered how to read children’s books for free (or on a budget). Of course, all the options on this are list are legal (as far as I know) and in no way take advantage of authors or their hard work.
I did a fair amount of research for this post, but I skipped many of the popular suggestions because the books on those platforms were just not great. So I’ve made sure to include accessible options (for those in the US mostly) that actually have books that would interest kids of different ages.
Where to Find Children’s Books for Free
If you’re maxed out on your book budget and need free books for your kids, check out these places:
1. Public Libraries
If you live in a country with an effective public library system, then you’re set. Sign up, get a library card and start placing holds or checking out books.
Libby is an app by Overdrive that allows you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and more from your libraries. First check to see if your library uses Overdrive. If they do, then you should be able to use the Libby app. When you borrow books using the app, Libby allows you to:
- Switch between libraries and library apps
- Send ebooks straight to your Kindle or other ereader
- Automatically add available holds to your shelf, and much more.
3. Become a Book Reviewer
I say this seriously, but if you LOVE books — especially children’s books — then become a reviewer. You can review books on Instagram, on a blog (I’ll share my tips for starting a kid lit book blog in another post), on Goodreads, or anywhere else. It’s easy to sign up on NetGalley to receive free books from publishers and once your have a slightly larger audience, you can actually ask publishers for free books.
4. Free Little Libraries
If you live in the US, then you may be able to start or take advantage of a Free Little Library. Use this map to search for a Free Little Library in your neighborhood to get started.
5. Oxford Owl
The Oxford Owl website is by the Oxford University Press to support learning at home. The books are definitely more UK-based and they don’t have a wide selection for older kids, but if you’re down to zero new options, it’s worth a try. Signup is easy and you can start reading right away.
6. Amazon Kids Free Books
Amazon has a selection of free kid’s books, most of which are independently published. If your kids have an Amazon Kindle and you’re open to reading ebooks with them, this is worth checking out.
7. Enter Book Giveaways
I find book giveaways super depressing when I don’t win, but it never hurts to enter as many as you can. Some popular kidlit giveaway spots I know include:
- Everyday Reading on Instagram (she hosts a 5-book giveaway every Monday or so)
- Reading Middle Grade newsletter (we giveaway one book every Friday)
- Cindy Schwind on Twitter (she does a book raffle every Friday night)
How to Read Children’s Books on a Budget
If you do have a few dollars to splurge on books, but would prefer not to spend too much, here are some more options you can try to read books on a budget:
8. Thrift Stores
Thrift stores, yard sales, and consignment stores can hold a lot of surprises for book lovers. You can tell the employees that you’re on the lookout for kids books and they’ll keep an eye out for you.
9. Secondhand Book Stores
I already told you about SecondSale.com, but I’m reminding you again! They also have a sister site SellBackYourBook.com which allows you to make money selling used books. Be sure to check your neighborhood for indie bookstores that sell secondhand books. Other popular online secondhand book stores you can try are:
- Book Depository
10. Kindle Unlimited
I tried Kindle Unlimited for three months last year and I liked several of the books they had available! If your kids use a Kindle, I think it’s worth trying. Personally, my overwhelming TBR just meant I wouldn’t get to all the books and it made no sense for me. I’m working on a list of favorite middle grade books available on Kindle Unlimited so you know what’s worth checking out.
11. Amazon Kids+ (Formerly Freetime Unlimited)
Amazon Kids+ is an all-in-one kids entertainment service with access to books, TV shows, and movies for a fixed monthly price. It offers a different range of books than Kindle Unlimited and is fun for younger kids who like a mix of TV and books.
This is my all-time favorite because it works for readers all over the world. It’s a subscription-based library that allows you access to ebooks, audiobooks and magazines for a fixed monthly fee (less than $10). This is how I listen to all my newly released audiobooks. If you want to try Scribd for two months free, use my sign up link.
13. eReader IQ
eReaderIQ allows you to track Kindle book prices so you can get the cheapest price point. It’s not so much a reading platform but a free-to-use middleman.
What are your favorite ways to read children’s books for free or on a budget?
Those are all of my tips! Over to you, how do you read children’s books for free (legally — no funky PDF downloads) or on a budget? Let me know!