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How to Find FREE Children’s Books for Your Child’s Home Library (UPDATED 2024)

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Having a well-stocked home library for your little one is an important part of fostering and nurturing a love of books. Check out this list of 8 ways to find FREE childrens’s books for your child to own–something every child deserves access to.

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A well-stocked home library for your child is important for a number of reasons.

My favorite reason to continue buying books for my daughter is that it allows us to create memories together and to bond over books. We love revisiting old favorites, and viewing them in a new light as my daughter gets older and is able to understand more complex concepts.

Pin about free books

For tips on books that aren’t free but are cheap and discounted, check out this article.

Check out these 8 realistic ways you can get free kids’ books:

Table of Contents:

  1. Little Free Libraries
  2. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
  3. Local Public Libraries
  4. Summer Reading Programs
  5. Organize a Book Swap
  6. PJ Library
  7. Host a PaperPie Party
  8. Partner with Organizations

1. Little Free Libraries

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a Little Free Library before. These are little community libraries that operate on the “take a book, leave a book” honor system. It’s not necessary to leave a book, but always encouraged!

little free library
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

These tiny libraries come in all shapes and sizes and are found in lots of neighborhoods throughout the world. The beauty of them is you never know what you’ll find in them, and it’s totally free–to anyone!

Check out this map to find the your nearest Little Free Libraries, or get the mobile app.

Interested in starting your own Little Free Library? Check out their webpage.

2. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a WONDERFUL program that provides one free, age-appropriate book PER MONTH to children from birth to five years old. Simply sign your child up for the program, and they will receive a monthly book in the mail, completely free to them and their families. How amazing is that?!

I know, it sounds too good to be true–but it’s real! The only catch is that it is not offered everywhere.

***2024 Update: ALL of Missouri now qualifies!!!


Check here to see if Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is available in your area.

How It Works

In order to implement the program in your community, someone must first get the program rolling, which means gathering donors to cover the basic cost of the wholesale books.

Infographic about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Image borrowed directly from I don’t own any rights to this, just sharing the info. Check out the full pdf here:

Learn more about how it works here.

Starting a Program

Interested in starting up a program in your community? It may not be as difficult as you think. Here’s a list of common organizations that often partner with Imagination Library:

  • United Way
  • Service Clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis & Junior League
  • Local foundations
  • Local businesses
  • Chambers of Commerce

Check out a cost estimator here to see what starting a program would look like in your community.

3. Local Public Libraries

Now I know this is an article about book ownership, but we can’t talk about FREE books without mentioning the FREE Public Library!!!

woman reading to boy in library
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

As a life-long library user and a librarian myself, I can definitely attest to the value of frequently visiting your local library. While you don’t get to keep the books forever, you can still renew them for more time and check them out again later on when you’d like to revisit them.

Plus, you’ll literally save yourself HUNDREDS of dollars on books that are 100% free.

Can’t find a specific book you’re looking for? Don’t worry–your friendly local librarian can find it for you through Interlibrary Loan. We have magical powers to do so.

Another obvious benefit of using the library: variety. Hop over to your nearest library and just browse the shelves of all the books you can take home, right now, for free.

4. Summer Reading Programs

Summer Reading Programs are awesome for so many reasons. They encourage kids to read throughout the summer to avoid Summer Slide, foster a love of reading, and typically provide your kiddo with free books!

girl reading book on beach
Photo by Drew Perales on Unsplash

Library Summer Reading Programs

Each library summer reading program might work a bit differently, but the main concept is the same. Encourage your child to read books, and they will be incentivised and rewarded for reading, and usually receive a free book (or two, or three).

Depending on where you live, you may be able to sign up your kiddos for summer reading programs through multiple library systems. I did this last year and was able to receive a handful of awesome, brand-new free books!!!

Don’t feel greedy doing this–libraries absolutely love your support! The more the merrier.

Most libraries also offer up other little goodies and prizes along the way, in addition to a free book.

summer reading prizes
Some of the books I’ve gotten totally free and brand new (at the time) through library Summer Reading programs

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

Did you know Barns and Noble has a summer reading program?! School-aged children grades 1-6 are eligible.

The steps are simple:

  1. Print out the log, called Reading Journal
  2. Have your school-aged child read and then log 8 books, and note on the log their favorite part about each one
  3. Bring the completed Reading Journal to any Barnes and Noble store between July 1 and August 31
  4. Have your kiddo choose their free book from the options listed on the log/Reading Journal. There are lots of popular books and authors to choose from!

Half-Priced Books Summer Reading Program

Half-Priced Books, a discount book retail chain, also has a summer reading program. They call it their HPB Summer Reading Camp. Rather than choosing from a selection of books, the end prize is a $5 gift certificate to spend toward books in-store.

If you have a Half-Priced Books store near you, definitely sign up! It’s available to children under 18. Just follow these steps:

  1. Register here (you’ll need to enter an email address)
  2. Wait for info about the program, including the reading log, to be sent to you via email
  3. Once your log is filled out, bring it into any Half-Priced Books store by the end of July
  4. Receive a $5 gift certificate (Bookworm Bucks) to put toward anything in-store

5. Organize a Book Swap

If you’re interested in a project that will take a bit more time and planning, you could organize a book swap.

You could reach out to your child’s teacher, reach out through various Facebook groups, local churches, parent groups, or friend groups.

Each child could bring a book they are willing to part with (in good condition, of course), and each child could leave with a brand new book. Or, for each book they bring, they get a token and can take the same amount of books home.

Children smiling with books
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva:

Check out this article for more tips on organizing a childrens’ book swap party.

6. Host a PaperPie Party

Let me start off by noting that it is NOT a guarantee that you will qualify for free books simply by hosting.

HOWEVER, it is possible.

If you have a lot of mom friends with young kids who have not already attended a bunch of these parties, and are genuinely interested in purchasing books, then you might succeed at earning free books.

PaperPie is an MLM, so sales are made through people hosting parties. If enough sales are made, the hostess can earn free books or discounted books–BUT, the sales minimums can be high.

For an honest review of my experience hosting two Usborne/PaperPie Facebook parties, check out this article.

If you’re considering hosting a PaperPie party but you’re not sure if it’s your thing, then definitely read this article!

7. PJ Library: Free Books for Jewish Children & Their Families

PJ Library is a fantastic program that provides a free monthly book to Jewish children aged birth to 12 to read with their families.

PJ Library books celebrate Jewish values, traditions, and stories.

Jewish mother and son with menorah
Photo by cottonbro studio:

Sign up here.

8. Partner with Charitable Organizations

If you’re interested in organizing a means for children in your community to have access to free books, there are a number of organizations you can look into partnering with.

As previously discussed, you could look into starting a Dolly Parton Imagination Library in your community, by reaching out to local service clubs like Kiwanis, United Way, Rotary, and Junior League.

However, there are certainly other partnerships to look into as well:

First Book

First Book provides free books to Title-I schools and other organizations where attendance is 70% low-income (at churches, Early Head Start programs, etc). The books are brand new, high-quality books donated by publishers, and you just pay shipping.

woman holding make a change sign
Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

Check out their Book Bank to see what is currently available. If you’d like to receive text notifications when new donations are available, text BOOKBANK to 89304 to opt-in

Book Trust Program

Book Trust provides low-income students with up to three free books per month during the school year. Students choose their books from the Scholastic Book Clubs flyer, and are allowed to keep these books forever.

To show interest in Book Trust in your community, fill out this form.

Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is aimed at providing children with access to free books of their own choosing.

Books for Ownership is their flagship reading program. If you’re interested in starting a Books for Ownership program in your community, check out this page.


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