Whether you’re trying to raise a child who loves to read or you are an avid reader yourself, there are lots of ways to get free books and free ebooks for kids and adults.
Having new books readily available can help you find what interests your child and encourage them to read more often, but buying new books can get expensive quickly. The great news is you can find books for free!
Use the resources below to help freshen up your bookshelf and keep your child interested in reading. Many of the places listed below also offer free books for adults.
Free Books – Paperback and Hardback
While you can’t keep these books on your bookshelf forever, our local libraries are a great resource for finding new books to read. We have access to books from the entire Polk County Library Cooperative that includes 16 local libraries here in Polk County, FL. All libraries are free and open to the public, but you’ll need a library card to borrow books.
Getting a library card is free and easy – simply visit any library location OR apply online. All you need is an ID and proof of a Polk County address. With a library card you can reserve and check out physical books, audiobooks, movies, and more from the library, and also access thousands of ebooks online. Click here to learn how to get a library card.
Books by Mail – Once you have a library card you can log into the library’s website to put books on hold. Books can be picked up at your nearest library, OR you can select Books by Mail and have them sent to your house (just be 100% sure you have a current address on file!)
Free Library Cards for Polk County Students – PLUS Cards
All Polk County Public Schools and Lake Wales Charter Schools students are automatically enrolled with a PLUS Card library account for FREE year-round access to library resources.
HOW TO USE IT: Students use their student ID number for their library card number and PIN to check out books, digital titles, or access online learning resources. No physical card is issued and the PLUS account is not associated with any other library card or account. Visit the Library Website to learn more.
Little Free Libraries
Little Free Libraries are free book-sharing boxes where anyone can take a book or leave a book. They are super cute and always fun to browse – you never know what you’ll find! We’ve seen kids books, adult books, fiction, nonfiction – some of everything. The Little Free Library website has a map to help you locate a box near you. By our count, there are almost 30 Little Free Libraries in Lakeland and more than 50 Little Free Libraries in Polk County!
How does it work? It’s simple! If you see something you’d like to read, take it. You don’t have to give a book
at the same time as you take one. Once you’ve finished a book, pass it on to a friend or put it back in a Little Free Library for someone else to enjoy. You can add books to a Little Free Library anytime.
(Interested in starting your own Little Free Library? You can buy a kit or find instructions on the website. Be sure to do your research to put it in a safe and road-legal spot).
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until age 5. If you have a child under the age of 5, you can sign up today for this program. Although there is currently a waiting list in Polk County, kids are aging out of the program daily and new applications are approved on a regular basis, so the sooner you apply, the sooner your child can begin receiving free kids books in the mail.
Freecycle, Craigslist, + Facebook Marketplace
Although you’ll have to do some searching, these websites are places to find free books. Just remember to put safety first – meet in a public space or take another adult with you to pick the items up.
Freecycle – Craigslist – Facebook Marketplace
Free Books Online
Can you tell the library is our favorite resource for accessing free books?? With a library card you can check out ebooks and audiobooks for FREE through online reading apps including Hoopla and OverDrive/Libby.
Project Gutenberg is an online library of over 60,000 free eBooks including many literary classics. You can find epub and Kindle eBooks to read free online. Both adult books and kids books are available. (Some of the more popular books include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, Pride and Prejudice, and many more. Search “children” to find books for kids online).
Library of Congress
Another resource for free books in the public domain, the Library of Congress website includes classic e-books for teens and kids.
Free Online Books for Kids
TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books which teach kids the joy of reading in a format they’ll love. TumbleBooks are created by taking existing picture books, adding animation, sound, music and narration to produce an electronic picture book which you can read, or have read to you. Access is free with a library card.
Reading IQ is a digital library that your child can access at any time that includes thousands of books to choose from, designed for ages 12 and under. Through a partnership between Age of Learning and the Florida House of Representatives to provide quality literary resources to Florida families, every Florida family receives free access to REading IQ through Dec. 31, 2021.
Epic Books for Kids
Epic is a leading digital library for kids 12 & under and a great place to find kids books online. Their award-winning library provides instant access to more than 40,000 of the best children’s books, learning videos, quizzes & more. A monthly subscription starts at $5.99/month, but they also offer a FREE subscription to Epic Basic.
For students with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers, Bookshare is a free online library that provides access to over 800,000 ebooks in easy-to-read formats. Students can read books in audio, follow text with karaoke-style highlighting, read in braille or large font, and customize their reading experience to suit their individual learning style. To join Bookshare, students must have a qualifying reading barrier.
Free Audio Books and Books Read Aloud
There are SO MANY online videos and websites where you can find books being read aloud! These are a great place for children to listen to a story. Check out a few of our favorites below.
(If you are using an iOS device or Android with Google Play, we highly recommend installing YouTube Kids as a place for your kids to watch the YouTube Channels listed below. YouTube Kids has filtered out adult content and adult commercials!)
Kids everywhere can instantly stream a collection of stories on Audible Stories, including titles across eight different languages, that will help them continue learning, dreaming, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
Just Read Books Aloud
JustReadBooksAloud.com is an online library of over 700 videos of books being read aloud. Many well-known children’s books are on this website.
Watch videos of well-known actors and actresses reading some of their favorite children’s books on Storyline Online. Developed by The Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Each book also includes an Activity Guide you can print or save to go along with the story. (They also have a Storyline Online YouTube Channel)
Barnes & Noble NOOK Channel on YouTube has quite a few children’s books – these will require you to search YouTube because the channel has a variety of other videos. Try searching “Barnes & Noble Nook Online Storytime” for the best results.
StoryTime for Kids – This YouTube Channel from Wildbrain has animated videos based on popular books.
Sync – Free Audiobooks for Teens
Audiofile Magazine offers 2 FREE Audiobooks for Teens each week during the summer. Every Thursday at 7am two new titles become available. The Sync Audiobook program is a completely free service for students ages 13+ and once saved, the audiobooks are yours to keep. Use the Sora app to access the titles. Runs from April 29 – August 4, 2021.
Websites to help you find new books
The Goodreads app is is my favorite place to find my next book. Put in the titles or genres you’ve enjoyed in the past, and will give you recommendations. They also have an annual Goodreads Choice Awards list that is a fun place to see popular books published each year in various genres. It is also a great way to track what you have read!
Amazon has a Best Seller list from every year, plus numerous other ways to see popular books.
If you enjoy audiobooks, the AudioFile website includes audiobook reviews and recommendations focused on the listening experience.
Start with a Book
If you have a young detective, explorer, artist, athlete or superhero at home or a child fascinated by dinosaurs, planes, bugs, birds, building, animals, the moon and stars, fairy tales, music, money, nature, water, or thunder and lightning, Start with a Book can help you find books and activities that match his/her curiosities and interests.
Tap into what interests your child through the Reading Rockets website. Use their Book Finder to search by author, illustrator, age, reading level, genre, format, and topic, or visit the Themed Booklists page for curated lists for ages 0-12.
Reading is Fundamental
Discover reading resources on the Reading is Fundamental website, including suggested books that kids love, activity sheets, puzzles, tips for parents and things to encourage children to read.
Free Book Themed Activities for Kids
I Can Read!
ICanRead.com is a website of activities with all your favorite book characters like Berenstein Bears, Biscuit, Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, Little Critter, Pete the Cat, and more. Filled with printable activity sheets for kids ages 3-7 who are reading or listening to I Can Read books.
PBS Kids (PB for Parents) has a variety of resources for parents to find fun and simple ideas to enhance your child’s math, literacy, and social emotional skills at home. You’ll find lists of books for boys, books for girls, as well as parenting tips and advice for daily life.
Start with a Book
Start with a Book can help you find books and activities that match your child’s curiosities and interests.
Other Places to Find Inexpensive Books
Inklings Book Shoppe
This used book shop was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid! Formerly called Book Bazaar, Inklings Book Shoppe exists to connect people with the books and stories that they love. With over 200,000 gently used books in stock, there is truly something for everyone. Located at 2120 S Combee Rd, Lakeland, FL 33801. Visit their Facebook page to learn more.
Bookends Used Books
This book store carries a vast array of genres and categories in both hardcover and paperbacks. Bookends offers a trade-in allowance that can be used up toward 50% off your purchase, excluding classics. Located at 5100 US Hwy 98 N #4, Lakeland, FL 33809. Learn more on their Facebook page.
Thrift Shops + Flea Markets
Most local thrift shops have a used book section including the Peace River Thrift Shoppe, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Lighthouse Ministries, and others. Flea Markets also often have booths with books for sale at low prices.
Check with your local library – many of them have a Friends of the Library section filled with used books for sale.
Some local events include book giveaways for kids like the annual Junior League World Of Reading Festival, a FREE Community Event. You may also receive free books after attending a class at The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center (formerly Family Fundamentals).
Book Subscription Services
While these aren’t free, if you’re an avid reader, these monthly book subscription services can save you from spending too much money on books and audiobooks! These are affiliate links – if you decide to sign up for a subscription we receive a small commission.
With Kindle Unlimited you can read unlimited books and listen to thousands of audiobooks as part of your subscription. There is a free 30 day trial available (and I’m currently seeing a 90 day trial when I’m logged into my Prime account) and subscriptions are $9.99/month. Note that most new releases and popular books are not included in Kindle Unlimited. See the selection on the Amazon Kindle Unlimited page.
Audible gives you unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks. They offer two subscription levels – Audible Plus is $7.95/month and gives you full access to borrow audiobooks. Audible Premium Plus is $14.95/month and gives you full access PLUS 1 credit a month to redeem for any audiobook on Audible that is yours to keep.
Wondering what is the difference between Kindle Unlimited and Audible since they are both Amazon products that include audiobooks? Kindle Unlimited only includes some Audible books, not the full catalog, and you are only borrowing the audiobook.
Scribd gives you instant access to ebooks, audiobooks, articles, podcasts, sheet music, plus other perks. You can access an unlimited number of books and audiobooks each month, but restrictions on some titles may apply. You can browse the website to see what titles are available (we do see some newer releases included). You can also use our referral link to get a free 60 day trial instead of the standard 30 days. Subscriptions are $9.99/month.
Looking for other ways to help kids love books? Check out our list of Summer Reading Programs where kids can earn free prizes and new books.
100+ Things to Do with Kids
Check out our Ultimate List of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County to find indoor fun, outdoor fun, free things to do, seasonal activities, and more.