Five Places to Find Living Books for Free or Cheap

So you know that living books are great, and you want your kids to read good books, not just twaddle. But sometimes it’s hard to find good books. Unfortunately libraries often carry more popular fiction- titles that are based off of television shows and characters or books that feature characters you’d rather you’re kids not emulate. If you’re on the hunt for good books, but you can’t afford to spend a fortune, here are a few places you might look.

Inexpensive living books

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Amazon’s Kindle Books

If you’re looking for a really inexpensive way to get some great classic children’s literature, try the Amazon Kindle store. You don’t have to own an actual Kindle. You can get the app for your smartphone or for reading on your desktop. There are many children’s classics for free, or you can find some literature collections for just a couple of dollars. Here are a few to get you started:

The Children’s Literature Collection ($1.99) has 39 complete classics children’s books, including most of the Frank Baum Oz books, the Anne of Green Gables books, the Tom Sawyer series, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books, and a few other assorted classics.

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (free)

Aesop’s Fables (.99)- This version has 60+ of the famous fables.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (.99)- This book contains twelve well-known children’s stories from Rudyard Kipling.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a totally free site where books in the public domain have been adapted so that they can be read online. There are usually multiple forms of the book so that you can download the book to read online or to send to an e-reader. You can find many classics here because classic literature is often in the public domain. You can browse for books by category, and there are many children’s classics. Here are a few samples to get you started:

Among Malay Pirates by G.A. Henty (along with many other G.A. Henty books)

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Ten Boys From History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser

Library of Congress

Alice in WonderlandThe Library of Congress online has a collection of classic literature free to read. It’s not categorized extremely well, but there is a grouping specifically for children. One really cool thing about this resource is that you can see the actual book pages and original artwork. Here’s a sample of what they have:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

In the Court of King Arthur by Samuel E. Lowe

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm


If your kids enjoy listening to books, Librivox is a great place to find good living books to listen to. Many of the books can just be listened to online or you can download them or subscribe and get them as a podcast for your iPhone. It’s pretty easy to browse by subject, and the book listing will let you know how you can listen to it. One caveat about Librivox- The books are read by volunteers. There have been times I had book with a wonderful reader, and there have been some we just couldn’t listen to! Here are a few examples of what you can find:

Audio books

Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle

The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred John Church

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Another great way to enjoy audio books a little more frugally is with an Audible membership. For $14.95 a month, we get one book credit as well as a discount on other audio books, Because the standard price is around $20, that’s a good deal. You can also find free or cheap books through Audible occasionally. Here are a few:

Classic audio books
Moby Dick by Herman Melville ($2.95)

The Children’s Shakespeare  ($3.95)- The stories told are based on the E. Nesbit version of Shakespeare for children.

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit ($4.95)

Parables From Nature by Margaret Gatty ($3.95)

Although I’d love to continually buy books for our home library- which is soon going to take over our whole home!- I just can’t afford to buy every book I want. These resources have given me the opportunity to find good, quality books for the kids or for me to read aloud.

Do you have any other places you go to find free or inexpensive living books? I’d love for you to share then with me.

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