7 Ways to Get Inexpensive (or Free) Books for Kids

7 Ways to Get Inexpensive (or Free) Books for Kids

Every summer, we say that the best way to get ready for school (and stay ready) is to read. And we also talk about how you can read all sorts of things besides books (like magazines, signs, and even cereal boxes). But we know that children’s books are a lot of fun. We also know that they can be really expensive and, especially this summer, families may not have a lot of extra money to spend. So we have come up with some suggestions for inexpensive ways to get books for kids.

BOOKS FOR FREE

  1. Public libraries – This summer, due to COVID, it might not be as easy to get to the library as it once was. While some libraries are not yet open, most have curbside pick up so you can pick out books online and then go pick them up outside the library.

Libraries also give members access to a lot of digital books for children, such as through Tumble Books, so you don’t even have to go pick them up!

  1. Little Free Libraries – These little book boxes can be found in neighborhoods all over. The idea is to take a free book or leave a book. Check out this map to find a Little Free library near you.
  1. Online books– There are a number of web sites where kids can view books and hear them read aloud. Here are just a few:

Storyline Online– Actors read children’s books aloud. There are many books to choose from.

Oxford Owl – Lots of ebooks as well as reading and math activities for kids.  Registration is required but it is free.

International Children’s Digital Library – Many ebooks from different countries in lots of different languages.

Unite for Literacy – These are simple ebooks with colorful pictures in English and Spanish.

  1. Imagination Library – This program is for 0 -5 year-olds. Kids get a free book every month sent to their home. This is available across the United States. To check whether the program is available in your area go to their map page.

LESS EXPENSIVE BOOKS

  1. Dollar stores – Your local dollar store has a selection of children’s books.
  1. Thrift stores – Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and your local thrift store have a selection of children’s books at very low prices. They will range in condition but some will be brand new and looking through the shelves is like a treasure hunt!
  1. Online discount sellers– There are a number of online sources that have deeply discounted kids’ books. Some have brand new books and some sell a selection of new and used. Here are just a few:

Better World Books – sells used books at low prices and shipping is often free!

Kidsbooks.com – sells overstocks of children’s books at deeply discounted prices. Because they are selling overstocks, you can often find newer titles here. They have a nice selection of books in Spanish and some other languages. You can also get books even further discounted when they are on sale.

Thriftbooks – sells both new and used books at great prices. And they have free shipping if your order is $10 or more.

There are lots of ways to find books for kids that will not break the bank, and you can access without leaving home. Happy summer reading!

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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