Kids today always have some digital device in their hands. Consequently, chapter books can be more accessible to the kids in your life by downloading them and letting kids read them on their devices. While there is not as big a selection of digital materials as printed works, there is plenty to keep your child reading for quite a while.
Four Sites to Find Free Chapter Readers
What's better than a free book? Perhaps a free book you can find online.
Children's Books Online
Children's Books Online bills themselves as the largest collection of antique books online. They offer antique/classic books for a variety of age levels. For children at the chapter book level, you'll want to check out their sections for intermediate and advanced readers. There are also some adult level books, which could be appropriate for older children. You'll find beloved classics like:
- Heidi - Written by Joann Spyri, the book follows the adventures of a young girl who goes to live in the mountains with her grandfather. It is appropriate for advanced readers ages 9 to 12.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol's fantasy novel follows the adventures of Alice, a precocious young girl, as she has run-ins with a variety of interesting characters from Wonderland. It is appropriate for readers ages 10 to 14.
Page by Page Books
If you're looking for more classics to share with your child, Page by Page Books has a wide selection. However, they are not organized by grade level, so you will need to do some browsing to figure out which books will work best for your child, or have a specific title in mind. Choose a title easily from the recent additions listed on the main page, or browse by title or author. You'll recognize many stories such as:
- The Adventures of Pinnochio - Written by C. Collodi, this well-known tale that warns of disobeying parents and the dangers of lying, has many film adaptations.
- Anne of Avonlea - Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables fame has long captured audiences of young girls with her whimsical character Anne. Anne of Avonlea is the sequel to Anne of Green Gables.
Project Gutenberg started in 1971 as an effort to get public domain works online. Currently, Project Gutenberg offers both public domain works and self-published works that have been edited. You can search by a specific title or browse titles on the Children's Bookshelf. Most chapter books are either in Children's Fiction or Children's Literature or Children's Series. You will find a variety of options on Project Gutenberg, such as:
- Little Men - Louisa May Alcott's sequel to the beloved story, Little Women, is considered by many to be an equally great story and worthy work of literature.
- The Bobbsey Twins - If your child likes Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, he is also likely to enjoy The Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope.
Children's Library offers a special section on chapter books. You can also search the site by title, topic or age level. The site also lists books by the most popular and features specific titles. You'll find Persian, French and English books in the collection as it is an international site. Nearly all of the books are available in the English Language. You'll find a variety of titles such as:
- Five Children and It - This lesser-known tale by English author Edith Nesbit follows the adventures of five children and their encounters with a wish-granting fairy elf.
- A Time for Evron - Recognized by the Canadian Children's Book Center, this tale by Bryan Smillie will appeal especially to kids who like science fiction, as it tells the story of Evron, an alien dog, and his alien dog friends.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were written by Mark Twain and published in 1885 in the United States. Young boys will love to hear about Huck and his adventures. The descriptions in this book are vivid, so if your child is working on creative writing or descriptive essays, this is a good book to study. Best for 9 to 12-year-olds.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
The Story of Doctor Dolittle was written by Hugh Lofting and published in 1920. This book is perfect for animal lovers. Dr. Dolittle has so many animals around his place that his human patients no longer wish to see him. Then, his parrot teaches him the secret of speaking to animals, and he suddenly has a flourishing practice - catering to animals. This book will be loved children of any age even though it does not offer illustrations. However, an industrious parent could easily print out photos of the different types of animals and use them while reading the book aloud.
The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal
The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal is about a young boy who visits a nearby village. While there, he finds that the townspeople are scared of something because they aren't sure what it is. He helps them overcome their fears of the unknown. This is a good book for a child facing fear. It was written by Idries Shah and published in 2008.
The Amazing Adventure Series
If your child enjoys a multimedia experience, then you'll want to check out The Amazing Adventure Series. The stories are about boys and girls similar to most children. It is an ongoing series, so you can start online and read as much or as little as you'd like. There are also poems and movies related to the book.
Where to Purchase Chapter Books Online
Besides free books online, other options are to join online book clubs, publishers or libraries for a subscription fee and receive unlimited access to books for your child.
MagicBlox has an extended library of children's online books for kids up to age 13. They have chapter books listed within their "feature" section under "chapters" beginning at intermediate readers (ages 6 - 9). You're required to sign up for one of their access passes to read their books. They do offer a Ladybug access pass that is free and unlimited access to one book every month, or you can have unlimited access to all their books by choosing to sign up for their monthly or yearly subscriptions. They have several award-winning, classic and contemporary titles such as:
- The Mystery at Darcy's Discount Store is a fun adventure with hero Gracie as she helps uncover the mystery thief at Darcy's Discount Store.
- Timmy and the Baseball Birthday Party is about 5-year-old Timmy and how he gets to go to his cousin's birthday party. To Timmy's surprise, it's actually his baseball birthday party.
- Jen and the Frosted Friends by Kerry Sparks is about Jen and whether she and her friends will make it to sixth grade surviving their mean teacher Mrs. Frost.
Epic is an online library with over 20,000 books for children to read on your computer, tablet or phone. They offer chapter books and early readers (each categorized by age), such as Super Fly Guy, Flat Stanly and Moody Judy. Teachers and educators can subscribe for free otherwise, they do offer a free monthly trial period then it's $4.99 a month for unlimited access to all their books.
Amazon Kindle Ebooks
Amazon has chapter books online through their Kindle ebook section of their website. These books range from free up to $20 a book; they also offer Kindle Unlimited, which provides a wide range of ebooks for a monthly price of $9.99 on any device (this also includes music and videos). If you don't own a Kindle, you can download the Kindle Reading App on your device or computer that enables you to access these books for your child. Some titles they offer are:
- The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children Mysteries Book 1) contains tons of mysteries and adventures of four brave orphans.
- The Blue Mermaid and The Little Dolphin Book 3 plunges your child into the world of a little mermaid and her undersea adventures.
- Ivy and Bean Bundle Set 1 (Books 1-3) is a wonderful tale and story about two spunky girls who are complete opposites.
Smashwords is an online indie publishing ebook site that sells and offers free online chapter books written by self-published writers. You can access these online books with your computer or any other device, such as your phone or tablet. The quality of these books varies but they are reasonably priced, costing $9.99 or less. All you have to do is join Smashwords and setup an account. Some example of their chapter books are:
- Journey to Mermaid Kingdom by Celesta Thiessen is a fun tale how an entire family, including their cats, turn into mermaids and travel under the seas in search of the Mermaid Kingdom.
- Max E. James: Beach Bound takes your child to a fun-filled day on the beach with Max E. James and his big brother Cody. Will Max be brave enough to body board again or will he wipe out like last summer?
Fight For The Kingdom is a magical adventure for Sir Aiden and Sir Trystan as they set out to save their kingdom from a horrible dragon.
Selecting the Right Book for Your Child
These are just a few chapter books available online. With so many books from which to choose, it can be difficult to know where to start. The best thing to do is consider your child's interests and see if you can find a chapter book that ties into those interests. For example, if your child loves the sea or beach, then the Journey to Mermaid Kingdom or Max E. James: Beach Bound is a great book for her. On the other hand, if your child enjoys traditional literature, he might appreciate Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. You know your child better than anyone, so choose a book based on what he loves.