A guide to finding books for children online


E-books have a lot of potential to support your child’s reading development. E-books, particularly interactive ones in which children can click on illustrations to activate animations, are found to motivate and amuse children as well as improve children’s literacy. They can encourage reluctant readers, and offer supportive features such as being able to click on an unknown word to hear it and read a definition. While reading on digital devices may lead to lower comprehension, research suggests that parent and child interaction over the book is the critical ingredient to children’s comprehension of the text, rather than the medium of the book itself. Check out our recommended e-book libraries to find e-books to enjoy together.

Picture books for younger children

BookTrust has an animated version of Hairy MacLary, Owl Babies and many more favourites. There are also links to YouTube videos of people reading stories, and links to some early education games but these are not distracting as they are at the bottom of the page.

OxfordOWL allows you to sign up to access free early readers.

Unite for Literacy has high quality information books for younger children and early readers.

For older children

Epic has hundreds of good quality books to read for children 12& under, some with audio. Join for free for the first month.

FunBrain has good quality texts organised by age, and in an easy to read page format. There are links to games, video, maths and other things on the website, but be aware that these may be distracting or lead your child away from reading.

Free Booksy is a list of links to free Kindle books downloadable at Amazon.com. You can read on any device with a free kindle app (available on the kindle download page for each book), or read online using your existing kindle cloud reader. Note that you need to click ‘Buy now’ rather than ‘Read for $0.00’ if you are not a kindle unlimited customer.

Free-ebooks.net allows you to join for free and download 5 books (in pdf form) each month for free. Choose from classics such as Peter Pan, Heidi, and The Velveteen Rabbit.

Internet texts

Websites can be another source of reading practice for children. Reading information online requires some additional reading skills. To aid comprehension of texts found online, it’s important to start by determining what you are trying to find out from your search. Identifying a question to guide the search helps children to make better sense of their reading. Use an online search engine for children such as KidRex, which will produce a manageable set of resultsand guide you to Internet texts and sites that are more child-friendly. Be aware that reading digital material online can be more challenging for children because of hyperlinks, distracting material such as adverts, and having to scroll down through text.

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our ECE webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our ECE research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.