While trips to the library are always a fantastic idea, it's important for kids to have books at home as well. By taking advantage of free online resources, you can print a diverse library of children's books without breaking your budget, and introduce young readers to the joys of reading.
No-Cost Printable Children's Books
Many sites offer free digital versions of books to read online or allow you to download free books in easy-to-print formats. There are options available for children in every age group.
Toddlers Through First Grade
- DLTK Teach provides printable mini-books for early readers. Subjects include letters, animals and the outdoors, holidays and the Bible, and more.
- Making Learning Fun has printable books on a variety of subjects. You have to print each page separately, but it's well worth the effort.
- Nellie Edge offers a selection 'Little Books' you can print and fold. Each book is only eight pages long. These books are also fun for kids to color. Collections include several nursery rhymes and some Spanish titles.
- Professor Garfield has a handful of full-color storybooks featuring everyone's favorite cat, Garfield. These easy readers also come with game ideas and flashcards.
- First-School has printable mini books about alphabets and letters. These books are fun to color, as well.
Second Through Fifth Grade
Children's Books Online offers a large selection of classic children's literature. The books are presented as page-by-page scans that can be downloaded as a single zip file and printed. The text pages are all in black and white, but there is some color with the illustrations. Other age group selections are available here as well.
- Free Kids Books offers a variety of picture books in downloadable PDF form. There are many unique titles here you won't find elsewhere. Make sure to check out the Young Adult section for readers over the age of 12.
- Kids World Fun offers a wide selection of educational resources. Their e-book section presents books in downloadable PDF format, ranging from titles for children with strong reading skills to picture books and toddler read-aloud books, with a few classic novels mixed in. Titles are all jumbled together, with no way to sort.
- Kids' English Books lets you read a book online, download and print or listen to an MP3 audio as you read, with novels, stories, classics, and new selections available.
Sixth Through Eighth Grade
- Enchanted Learning is a subscription site, but you can download a few books for free, including some cool science stories.
- Free Online Catholic Novels offers a selection of middle-grade novels in a variety of categories like adventure, mystery, and romance. The books are in PDF format for printing, or you can read them online. The title of the site is a bit misleading: the authors are Catholic, but not necessarily the topics or materials.
- Obooko offers a large variety of teen and young adult books across many categories. They use Young Adult as the genre on the site, so it's a bit harder to find books of a particular type. If you browse through their selection, though, you're sure to find something that meets your needs. You have to register with the site to view these books, but they're free and presented in PDF format.
- Project Gutenberg has a children's and young readers' bookcase, which contains many classics, including periodicals, novels, and more. You can read them online or download them. While printing can be clunky, it's still worth your time given the extensive selection here.
- The Children's Library at the Internet Archive offers public domain novels from around the world. These are scans of book pages, but many of them offer a simplified PDF option (look in the left-hand margin after selecting a book to see available formats) that is suitable for printing.
- Openculture provides links to classic books, including graphic novels, for older readers and there are options for audio, online, or downloadable "reading."
Tips for Printable Books
- Many websites have books for a wide span of ages; be certain to click through and check on the titles.
- Some sites are going to a subscription-based model, but they often allow you to download a few books as samples.
- Certain websites, like Project Gutenberg, have several formats for reading and downloading. Printing can be difficult, but for unusual or rare books, it's worth the time. Don't pass up this site because it's not "point and click."
- When downloading, printing, and assembling your books, small touches make a difference. For younger children, print booklets on heavyweight card stock instead of regular printer paper.
- If the book doesn't have color illustrations, encourage kids to personalize the story by coloring in the designs with crayons or markers.
- For longer story books or novels, use a hole-punch and some beautiful ribbon to bind pages together. Decorate a cardboard to personalize it, or print the cover and back pages on heavy card stock.
- Use pre-punched paper and put a longer book into a three-ring binder for easy reading.
Enlist Your Child
The more attractive your downloaded books appear, the more excited your child will be to read them. Take your time and enlist your child's help to design a unique and engaging library at home.