More children than ever are turning their attention to digital literature than regular books. High street bookstores are on the decline, and while many of us may still be attached to our regular reading material, it makes sense to embrace our children's interests by seeking out eBooks to pique their interest in the written word.
There are many, many sites from which we can download children's eBooks, but as any parent understands certain books are just better than others. The quality of language, illustration and storytelling set some books apart from their competitors... and of course it's even better if those books can be found for free!
Here is a list of sites which provide eBooks for children of all ages which you can access for free on a tablet or PC. Many provide downloads (in PDF, ePub or MOBI format) while others must be accessed online. Wherever possible, I've tried to include links to "tablet-friendly" eBooks, though in some cases you may find it easier to download materials to your PC and transfer them to your preferred reading device.
The Oxford Owl website offers more than 250 free eBooks for children from 3-11. Registration is required to access these books, though it is certainly worth it! Many series are available to help children advance through different learning stages according to their age and development. Additionally, most eBooks have accompanying activities or can be "read aloud".
Visit Oxford Owl
Currently boasting close to 3000 items, the Internet Archive's Children's Library features out-of-copyright eBooks which can be read online or downloaded in many different formats.
I would suggest that most of these eBooks are better suited to confident older readers, though you'll likely find collections (such as Anderson's fairy tales) which are perfect for bedtime stories that younger children will adore.
If you're not sure where to start, take a look at the "Books of Interest" or "Staff Picks" sections which can be found on the main page. Particular treasures we enjoy from this site are Old French Fairy Tales (download the PDF or read online to enjoy the beautifully illustrated editions); McGuffy's Eclectic Primer and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
This is a fantastic resource for non-fiction books for all ages, from birth through to age 12! Some of the more well-developed books are available in PDF format, but all are available to view online and appear to be "tablet-friendly".
I'd recommend browsing books on the main page to find those you are most interested in, or search the site if you're looking for works on a particular subject.
Younger readers may enjoy the small-but-growing range of free eBooks from Bibliotastic. Currently 19 contemporary books are available in the children's section, made free by their authors for personal use. Books can be read online by anyone, or you can choose to register in order to download eBooks for an e-reader.
Classicly offers a collection of public domain eBooks for younger readers which are available to download in PDF (and sometimes Kindle) format.
Many recommendations are featured on the main page, including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense to name a few.
Browse Classicly's Young Readers Collection
Thunderbolt Kids provides free PDF eBooks and comics for school children in grades 4-6 on subjects related to the natural sciences and technology. These full-colour eBooks are engaging and exciting, with prompts for consideration and discussion. Best of all, they are available under a creative commons license and may also be used in the classroom!
Visit Thunderbold Kids
International Children's Digital Library
This treasure trove of free books for children includes reading material in many different languages and several award-winning titles.
Finding a great book to read is incredibly easy using the many different search functions. All books can be read online, and while there is no need to register, you can choose to become a member of the library to save your language and books you have read.
Visit the International Children's Digital Library
A simple collection of contemporary eBooks which can be read online or downloaded in PDF format for viewing later. Book listings can be sorted by age group (toddler, pre-school and young adult).
The Library of Congress site, Read.gov offers 51 classic books for kids and a further 6 for teens which can be read online or downloaded in PDF format (I'm not sure I'd include Dracula or Poe's tales in the kids section though...).
Several of these titles can also be found elsewhere, but there are a few intriguing books I hadn't come across before such as A Princess of Mars (first in the John Carter series); The Children's Object Book and The Rocket Book (which we found hugely entertaining). All feature beautiful vintage covers, which may even encourage you to read a few yourself!
Your children may also like to read the interactive book, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure - an intriguing contemporary mystery - which is available in a separate section of the site.
Don't be put off by the simplicity of this site! These eBooks are intentionally basic as they are aimed at pre-school children who are just beginning to develop word/object recognition; for this reason, both Babyman and I think they are a wonderful tool for absolute beginners!
The series is is based on the Dolch sight word list, and is divided into stages so you can easily know what to read with your children next. Interactive books and printable pages are also available.
Visit Reading Hawk Library
Related to the Reading Hawk site, Clarkness offers free eBooks and reading pages for Kindergarten and first grade children. These basic eBooks are organised into stages and collections for children to build their reading skills and discover new words.
Originally intended to accompany experiments in the classroom, these comic books make physics vastly appealing for middle-school children (and you can always gather the materials to conduct experiments at home!).
Titles include Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair; Marie Curie's Floating Classes and Ben Franklins Secret Message to name a few. I rather enjoyed looking through these myself, and learned a fair few things along the way...
Visit the PhysicsQuest page on Physics Central
More free eBooks for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and moreI realise that many of you would like to find device-specific eBooks, but as the free titles available for Kindle, Nook and Kobo change on a daily basis, it is incredibly difficult to link to static pages.
Instead, I'd recommend browsing (or registering for updates) on the following sites:
- eReaderPerks (Kids Section) - Monitors free releases at Amazon (USA), plus eBooks for Kobo and Nook. You can opt to receive customisable emails for children's books for ages 0-12.
- FKB (Children's section) - Monitors Amazon (USA) for limited-time eBooks, and also includes an "always free" section.
- Free Feed Read (USA and UK) - These link to the children's sections of Free Feed Read for their relevant countries, and include both fiction and non-fiction books. Sorting by genre, age range and rating are available for time-limited freebies from Amazon.
Can you recommend more quality children's eBook sites?
I'm always on the lookout for free eBooks and educational resources for my own children, and am sure many other Glamumous readers are too! If you would like to recommend any resources not already featured in this list, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment below.
Photo credit (post banner): nooccar, via Flickr
Photo credit (post banner): nooccar, via Flickr