Free Books Online: 6 Places to Find Books Without Leaving Your Home

Girl reading a book on an electronic pad

We love these resources for instant gratification when you want to find free books online. Find non-fiction, fiction, romance, thrillers — whatever your love to read. When you want to read now and a pdf just won’t do, check out these 6 ideas for free books online that you can read in your web browser or add to your device.

1. Your Own Library offers Free Books Online

All of the metro-area libraries offer online catalogs that you can access at home by entering your library card. Check in with your own library to see what they offer. Even with an increase in traffic, I have not had problems finding something on my list available to immediate gratification. Not only can you find free ebooks, but you can get audiobooks, streaming videos, online classes and music that you can add to your personal player. You can even learn to make that thing you were contemplating ordering from Etsy. My library is my cure for online shopping.

Best Book Options for kids: New reads and fiction are most likely to be offered in multiple formats, including e-books and audio books.  I often just search with the “Available Now” filter. There is often no waiting for new books by local authors or big name authors like Jeff Kinney or Kate DiCamillo. If the book you are looking for is not available, you can get in line and peruse the “while you wait” recommendations.

Alternatives: (1) Check Open Library for online books you can borrow. Like your own local library, this site has trending books and classic books that can be checked out through a controlled digital lending program; (2) the Library of Congress offers classic books that you an read online. It is not as easy as other formats, but its fun to see images straight from these vintage books.

2. Sync Audiobook Program for Teens

This free summer audiobook program for teens begins each April and gives away two complete audiobook to add to your device each week.

Best Book Options: These books are chose by the publishers so you don’t get to choose the week’s book, but they will be newer books.

Alternatives: Teens can use most of the other options in this article to find young adult and classic books to read.

3. Free Kindle Books

I like the reading experience with Kindle e-books best, so I was excited to find the Website Ben & Me has a list of 175 free e-book offers for kids from Kindle. Not everything on this list is still available, but a great deal of them are and these are quality books that you will enjoy sharing with your kids. You can also search Amazon for free Kindle books, but there is quite a bit to dig through to find the good books.

Best Book Options for Kids: This entire list is kids books. They are divided into categories like “Classics,” “Thornton Burgess Books” and “Andrew Lang’s Fair Books”.

Alternatives: Many free books offered by Amazon for Kindle can also be found in the public domain websites we list below.

4. Free Public Domain Classic Books Online

The best public domain classics come from . If it was published before 1924, it is likely on this extensive site populated by volunteers. There is no registration and no fees.  Just search for the book you want and add it to your collection. You can add to your Kindle, Nook, or as an epub to your computer and sometimes there are audios available. Similar options include Standard Ebooks and Librivox for audio books.

Best Book Options: Think classics – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne or even more modern classics like Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer books

Alternatives: Google Books also offers public domain and copyright-free books, I think its a little clunkier to search, but you can create your own library and use the GooglePlay app to read on your phone. You can also search within the book, create a citation, or buy books that you can’t find free.

5. Picture Books Read Aloud

When I want to preview a picture book before deciding whether to buy, I go to YouTube. Someone has probably read it aloud – sometimes even the author.

Best Book Options for Kids: Selections available on YouTube change often, but we recommend searching your child’s current favorite. That is how we found the wonderful Pete the Cat Videos.

Alternatives: We also love Bookflix, offered through all Twin Cities area libraries.

6. A Mix Bag of Audio Books – Worth Checking Out

If you have a Spotify account, I have had good luck finding audios of books here. Some of the narrators are better than others and you need to remember to turn off “Shuffle Play” or it will bounce around chapters out of order. You may also find podcasts reading or sharing insights into the books you are looking for. I recommend previewing these on your own though because some are not family friendly even when they are sharing kids books.

Best Book Options for Kids: Spotify is my favorite place to find poetry read aloud, often by the poet – Shel Silverstein has several selections.

Want a physical book now? Check your own bookshelves. I don’t know about you, but my book-buying habit exceeds my reading. I have more books in my to-read pile than I’d like to admit. I’m trying to match these up with my audio copies so I can go back and forth between reading and listening depending on the situation.

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