If you’re not a bookworm like me and wondering “why should I be reading to my child”, here are some statistics for your contemplation:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) children who are read to at home have an advantage over children who are not. Of those children who are read to 3-4 times in the last week by a family member, 26% recognized all letters of the alphabet compared to 14% of children who were read to less frequently. In addition, children who are read to frequently are more likely to:
- count to 20 or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%)
- write their own names (54% vs. 40%)
- read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
There are so many ways to find physical books, PDFs, as well as ebooks for your little people to read without spending a fortune. The below all offer easy options to give kids access to a wide variety of reading material — some without spending a cent on gas!
1. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program
Kids in first through sixth grades can earn a free book by filling out the “Summer Reading Triathlon” reading journal. After your kids fill it out, bring it to a Barnes & Noble store between May 17 and September 6 to earn a free book from a selected list. If you have younger children such as mine, they also offer story time on Saturday mornings (varies by location)! As a side note, the library near me does a summer reading program as well. My girls log their books over the summer and receive a certificate and free book if they reach their goal! 🙂
2. Read Conmigo
Immerse your children in preK-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 and the online resources like bilingual activities and educational tools are available to everyone, regardless of location.
3. Reading is Fundamental
Reading is Fundamental partnered with ustyme to allow free access to 50 classic ebooks including “Goldilocks,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs,”. Kids can even read along with an adult using the ustyme app to make live video calls. I plan on trying this with the girls and their Papa soon, but I haven’t tested it yet. Let me know if you have!
4. 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 (you can even get coloring books).
I can’t even tell you how many books we’ve bought from Goodwill. Most of the time I take the girls as a reward and let them pick out two-three a piece and I generally spend about $5. There’s always a wide range to choose from and they’re rarely more than gently used. I’ve even found some brand new cookbooks still in the plastic for me for $2!
6. Little Free Library
Little Free Library is trying to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. There are over 36,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing millions of books annually. There is a listing here of all addresses for these little book exchanges.
7. Craigslist and Freecycle
If you’re looking for some kids’ books, don’t forget to check out Craigslist and Freecycle. Plenty of people have books they’re not using or their children have outgrown and would be happy to share. Added benefit: you will be teaching your children about reusing/recycling at the same time.
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 (not to mention renting audiobooks and DVDs). Our library has a for sale section that we buy from too. Also note, both our current library and our previous library offered children’s story time in the evening and family night once a month. Just another way to get your kids interested in books/reading.
9. 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 the prices “low to high” to see all the freebies.
10. 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 which I LOVE) to read them. I did splurge and use my rewards points to buy Cici a Fire Kids Edition (occasionally on sale for $79) for her birthday. It’s a complete tablet with apps, camera, etc. In addition, you get 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (love this), Kid-Proof Case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee (already used once) .
11. 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 “Alice in Wonderland” and many others.
12. Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was created and 1995 and has expanded to send more than 60 million books to kids in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. To see if your area is eligible for free books you can register online to search for a local program. Unfortunately, my area in Texas isn’t available but I did sign up for future mailings just-in-case.
Do you know of any other ways to get free kids’ books?