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Teachers keep telling me that it’s super important for my kiddos to be reading, or something. But kids outgrow stories as quickly as clothes, so buying books can be spendy.

If you want to increase your home library without breaking the bank, we’ve found more than a dozen ways to get new and gently used kids’ books and e-books for free!

Your quest should start with calling your local library to see if they’re giving away anything, but beyond that, here are some legit ways to get free kids’ books:

 

1. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library gives every child one free book each month.

A graphic with a photo of Dolly Parton holding a book next to the logo for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, celebrating 20 years.

While you’re busy working 9 to 5, you can stretch your children’s creative muscles by signing up for free books through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. More than 165 million books have been gifted to date!

Each child in your family up to the age of 5 is eligible for one free book per month. Not all locales take part in the program, however, so check out the site for availability and restrictions. If your neighborhood isn’t currently participating, you can still sign up for updates to learn when the program becomes available in your area.

 

2. Get free comics during Free Comic Book Day on the first Saturday in May.

A digital poster for Free Comic Book Day, dated for the first Saturday in May, May 7th, 2022. The poster has a graphic showing the title and date on a background of a collage of photos of cosplayers and comic characters.

In 2022, the 20th annual Free Comic Book Day falls on Saturday, May 7, and this year’s giveaways include a Captain Underpants sampler, Spider-Man, Stranger Things, Archie, and Doctor Who. You’ll want to visit multiple shops to get at least one free comic book per store. To find a participating shop in your area, use the Free Comic Book Day store locator.

So, how are these comics free? Free Comic Book Day is facilitated by a panel of comic book publishers, retailers, suppliers, and Diamond Comic Distributors. Every year, publishers apply to provide free comic books to independent comics book stores to give away to patrons. Win-win!

For more information, free downloads, interviews, and sneak peeks of the comics offered, go to FreeComicBookDay.com.

 

3. Take a book (& give a book) at a Little Free Library.

A person holding open the door of a Little Free Library book box and holding a children's book titled

Speaking of book exchanges, there are more than 90,000 book-sharing boxes in neighborhoods and high-traffic areas.

Little Free Libraries let you borrow or keep a book — but if you choose to keep a book, it’s generally expected that you’ll share one from your own collection.

Find a Little Free Library near you (or apply to set one up yourself for free).

 

4. Visit Gizmo’s Best to download free e-books for kids.

A child in soccer gear holding an Amazon Kindle displaying the beginning of a book chapter with other children with soccer gear looking at another Kindle in the background.

The website Gizmo’s Best features more than 700 websites where you can download free e-books or access thousands of books to read online.

Gizmo details each of the websites, and each one is different. From fiction to biographies, math books to illustrated kids’ books, there are thousands of things to read on this list.

Several library sites — such as the University of Maryland’s International Children’s Digital Library, where you can search for books by characteristics such as language and genre — provide free access to thousands of titles, from classics like Where the Wild Things Are to contemporary stories like Harry Potter.

The Digital Book Index is another valuable online resource for thousands of free, downloadable e-books for kids of all ages.

 

5. Join summer reading programs for free kids’ books and other great giveaways.

A person's hand holding up a printed copy of the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Journal in front of a brick wall.

Summer reading programs are a win-win. First, it’s one of the best things to do for kids in the summer. Next, it’s an activity that results in freebies.

These businesses and organizations offer some of our favorite summer reading programs:

  • AudioFile: Teens get 2 free audiobooks per week.
  • Barnes & Noble: Child gets a free book after reading eight.
  • Half Price Books: Kids who read 300 minutes a month get a $5 gift card.
  • Timberdoodle: The homeschool curriculum site gave readers a $10 gift certificate.

 

 

6. Get free digital kids’ books and enter giveaways at Goodreads.com.

 

A child sitting on a couch, holding and looking down at an e-reading device.

Goodreads.com is a go-to website for book lovers, and a good place to get free books for kids.

You can browse tons of free ebooks for kids and teens, and enter to win a wide variety of great books (including New York Times bestsellers).

They’ve also got a message board so you can get free books in exchange for a review.

 

7. Book exchanges let you trade for new-to-you books.

A hallway lined with bookshelves with stacks of books on the floor.

Online book exchanges are great places to find children’s books that are in great condition.

List the books you want to swap out, and then get access to books others are getting rid of. Only pay the cost of shipping.

Here are some of our favorites:

Book exchanges aren’t just online; check Craigslist and Google to find listings for book exchanges near you.

 

8. Get new kids’ books for free at FirstBook.org — just pay shipping.

A child sitting on a table reading a book while surrounded by stacks of other books.

Publishers have donated countless kids’ books to the First Book Marketplace. All the books in the Book Bank are free for First Book members; just pay shipping and handling — anywhere from $0.00 to $22.00. Sometimes the books are single, sometimes they’re in bulk, so be sure to read the description.

All you need to do is register as a First Book Member (for free!), then go to the Book Bank and start browsing! The prices shown are for shipping and handling.

If you see something you like, get it. Donated books are only available while supplies last.

 

9. Sign up for Swagbucks to get free kids’ books on Amazon.

 

A person's hand holding an iPhone displaying the Swagbucks mobile app, a gift card for $25, a target gift card, and an Amazon gift card for $25, in front of an open door.

This one takes a little more work, but it’s totally doable.

Swagbucks is a site that rewards you for completing tasks like surveys. Once you hit a certain point total, you can cash out for Amazon gift cards — which can turn into free books from Amazon. Or Target. Or a bunch of other retailers.

Is Swagbucks legit? We tell you all about it.

 

10. Claim 12 free braille books each year for low-vision and blind children.

A child's hands going over the page of a braille book.

The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults has a wonderful Braille Books Program that gives kids one free braille book per month from popular children’s series. Register for the program and check out their huge library of downloadable braille books while you’re there!

 

11. Become a book reviewer to get free kids’ books.

A child, with their fingers in their mouth, focusing on an open book with another child standing in the background.

In this digital age, authors — especially new and independent authors — rely on good reviews. And they’ll give you their books for free in exchange for an honest review. These sites have many different types of books (not just kids’), so be choosy.

Here are some sites that offer free physical or digital books when you sign up to review:

 

12. Jewish families can sign up for free materials from PJ Library.

A screenshot from PJ Library showing 12 children's books they have available for their service.

PJ Library is an organization that sends free children’s books and music to Jewish families on a monthly basis. Depending on the community, children ages 6 months to 12 years of age can participate.

Find the PJ Library in your community. If your community is not listed, you can request sponsorship through the website.

 

13. Find free kids’ books using local bulletin boards.

A screenshot from Craigslist showing a user's post about needing to get rid of their Animorph books.

People have stuff they want to give away (rather than toss or donate), and websites like Freecycle and the “Free Stuff” section of Craigslist are good places to see what’s available.

If you don’t see kids’ books on there, you can always post that you’re looking for them.

13 Ways to Get Free Books for Kids