6 Free Book Options to Get Kids Reading

child reading at library

We’ve all heard about the importance of reading to children starting at a young age. It strengthens their knowledge base and promotes listening skills. It heightens language and vocabulary skills. It introduces print words and sets them up for earlier letter and word recognition. Most importantly, it encourages their imagination! Books are everywhere, but we understand that purchasing books can be expensive and the time that it takes to get books can be tough for working parents, so we put together a list of free locations to access books for your child. 

Little Free Libraries: You may have seen these while you’ve been out and about. Little Free Libraries are just what they sound like- small centers where you can take (and leave) books for free! While not all Free Little Libraries have children’s books, many do. Use the website to search for ones in your neighborhood and see what you can discover!

Chicago Public Library: The Chicago Public Library has a variety of locations around the city of Chicago where residents can apply for a library card and check out books; however, if you don’t have time to make it to a library you can apply for an eCard and check out children’s books online at the CPL Overdrive website. There are a wide variety of materials that can be downloaded to e-readers like a Kindle or viewed right in the browser of your computer, tablet or phone. Outside of Chicago? No problem! Check your local public library system. Most libraries offer a wealth of online options these days. 

Illinois Service Resource Center (ISRC): This is a resource center geared toward individuals with hearing or vision issues; however, they also have a wide variety of books and games that can be checked out and mailed to you as long as you’re within the state of Illinois. Anyone interested will have to sign up as a new member and search the available materials. When you find books (or toys!) you’re interested in, fill out the request and a librarian will be in touch to mail the items and postage for you to return when you’re finished with them. 

Oxford Owl: This website contains a free e-book library for ages 3-11! You’ll have to register in order to view the books, but they have a wide variety of options that can be read to your child by you or played via device audio for when you need a break from reading the same book for the twelfth time in a row!

Project Gutenberg- Children’s Bookshelf:  Project Gutenberg is a website which curates free electronic books, including children’s books. Look at the children’s bookshelf linked here to find stories your child will enjoy. Most of the stories here are older ones, including classic takes on fairy tales and nursery rhymes. 

Unite for Literacy: Unite for Literacy’s website offers a variety of picture books available free of charge online. There is no sign up necessary, and books showcase all genders, races, national origins, disabilities and ages. Check out the Create and Play section for some fun interactive books like color mixing and drawing. These books are best for younger children, ages 2-6. 

We hope this helps you out and gets you and your children reading together! Did you know that reading falls under the scope of practice for speech-language pathologists? If you have concerns with your child’s reading skills, please contact us to set up an evaluation or free screening! 


Written by Kate Gilliat, MS CCC-SLP

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