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Free or Low-Cost Books

First Book
First Book is a non-profit that provides new books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children in need, from birth to age 18. The benefits of registering with First Book include free books from the First Book National Book Bank, low-cost books and resources from the First Book Marketplace at 50-90 percent off retail price, and potential funding from First Book’s corporate partners and generous donors.

WNDB in the Classroom
To help children find stories and authors that they can relate to, We Need Diverse Books’ Educators Making a Difference Grants are for educators who believe in the importance of incorporating diverse books by diverse authors into their schools, libraries, and educational organizations. Grants provide up to $2,000 per educator and can be used toward buying diverse titles, hosting diversity-focused student or community events, diversity audits of existing collections, or any other project that supports diverse literature.

Better World Books
Better World Books receives books from libraries, booksellers, book drives, and through community Drop Boxes, and then sells what they can to raise money for literacy, donate books in good condition, and recycle the balance. Make a request to become a donation recipient.

Literacy Empowerment Foundation
Literacy Empowerment Foundation’s Reading Resource Project offers free books to recipients who can pay shipping, handling, and administrative costs. Reading Resource Project books come in sets of 100 books per set and any literacy-based effort qualifies for these books. You do not have to be a school or teacher to qualify.

Little Free Library
Little Free Library is a place to find a book or bring a book to share! Find Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods all over the world, all with different offerings. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share. Through its Impact Library Program, Little Free Library provides no-cost Little Free Library book exchanges to communities where books are scarce.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children's Book Day provides teachers with free, diverse, inclusive, and multicultural books for their classroom libraries.

Free Books to Read Online

Vooks is an entire library of storybooks brought to life through animation, read-aloud narration, engaging music and sound, and read-along text. Vooks is always free for teachers’ classroom use on one device.

This digital reading platform for kids 12 and under with more than 40,000 high-quality and award-winning fiction and nonfiction books, audio books, and videos from 250 publishers. Epic! is completely free for teachers and librarians.

International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)
The non-profit International Children’s Digital Library identifies exemplary books that help children to understand the world around them and the global society in which they live and makes them freely available on the Internet.

Free Audiobooks and Video Read Alouds

KidLit TV
Children can experience authors and illustrators reading their works through KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud program, which includes an array of titles featuring diverse people and cultures. Find more read-alouds, plus podcasts, activity ideas, book trailers, and more at their award-winning website.

Story Time from Space
Story Time from Space is a project of the Global Space Education Foundation, which sends children’s books to the International Space Station. While in space, astronauts record themselves on video reading these books to the children of Earth and share them on the Story Time from Space website.

Storyline Online
At Storyline Online, SAG-AFTRA Foundation records well-known actors reading children’s books and makes graphically dynamic videos so that children around the world can enjoy favorite stories, such as The Kissing Hand, A Bad Case of Stripes, and Stellaluna.

Julie’s Library
Join Julie Andrews for story time at Julie's Library! Julie and her daughter, children’s author and educator Emma Walton Hamilton, invite you into their library to read their favorite children’s books. Every story comes to life with sound, music and activities. Authors, kids and other special guests chime in, too.

Lee & Low Storytime
Publisher Lee & Low Books' Lee & Low Storytime has a growing library of author read alouds which include several titles read in Spanish.

PBS KIDS Read-Alongs
PBS KIDS Read-Alongs offers families a place to come together and read along with favorite titles read by celebrities, including Michelle Obama, and PBS KIDS authors.

PBS Books Storytime
PBS Books Storytime is a resource developed by the PBS Books channel to offer author read-aloud stories and book features for educators, libraries and families. The segments feature children’s book authors and others in “Read-Aloud” segments and/or video features on new and best-loved children’s books.

Goodnight with Dolly
Goodnight With Dolly features Dolly Parton reading aloud titles from the Imagination Library. Snuggled in bed with her Imagination Library book, Dolly shares stories that are just right for this moment in time.

Read, Wonder, and Learn!
Author Kate Messner's Read, Wonder, and Learn! is a complilation of resources from favorite authors and illustrators that include everything from first-chapter and picture book video read-alouds to drawing and writing mini-lessons.

Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 format.

Book Distribution Programs

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a unique book gifting program that mails a brand new, age-appropriate book to enrolled children every month from birth until five years of age, creating a home library of up to 60 books and instilling a love of books and reading from an early age. The cost of the books and the mailing is typically financed by community businesses, school districts, civic organizations, individuals, or local government.

Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that trains and supports medical providers who give books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud at well-child exams.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF)
Reading Is Fundamental’s flagship Books for Ownership program ensures that kids living in poverty have access to new, free books of their choice and participate in reading motivation activities.

Additional Resources

In Search of Free Books, Reading Rockets’ roundup of sources for free and low-cost books.

Where to Find Free Audiobooks and Digital Text-to-Speech Books for Your Child from Understood.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program mails children a free book each month from birth until they are 5 years old. These high-quality books are chosen by experts in publishing and education, and are based on the child's age. There are no eligibility requirements for Dolly Parton's book club; any child can join.

Parton's mission is to foster a love of learning in children, making the experience of reading fun and meaningful. Imagination Library is now available in over 2,000 communities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Since the program's inception in 1995, it has distributed more than 172 million children's books to young readers.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Books

The free, brand-new books from Dolly Parton's book club are a mixture of classic and contemporary fiction and non–fiction for children. Children get a book appropriate for their age on subjects including nursery rhymes, letters, safety, diversity, and school preparation.

The books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library strive to showcase diversity, help build self-confidence, and show the importance of the arts and its impact on the world. Audio and braille books are also available. See the concepts and themes for each age group for more details.

The first title that children receive is always The Little Engine That Could, and the last title is always Kindergarten, Here I Come! Other titles have included: 

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  • The Bug Book
  • Peace Is an Offering
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Pretend
  • The First Strawberries
  • Violet the Pilot
  • Jake at Gymnastics
  • Plenty of Love to Go Around
  • Last Stop on Market Street

A portion of the books change each year to make room for newly published titles. Your child will get at least 60 different books if you sign them up at birth. That's a lot of reading!

Sign Up for Free Books

To see if Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is available in your area, visit the availability page, choose your country, and enter your zip code. Currently, there are participating communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

If the program is available for you, go through the steps of registering your child (submitting your mailing address and information about your child). If online registration isn't available, or you prefer not to register online, contact your local affiliate to sign your child up.

There are no income limits or other qualifications to participate in the Imagination Library. As long as your area has an affiliate, your child can enroll in the program.

Once You've Registered

Every month, your child will receive a new book from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. The books will be addressed to them, so they can look forward to getting their own package in the mail.

Be sure that you have entered your correct mailing address and email so that program staff can contact you if necessary. You can make the most of the your books by checking out the parent resources, which include reading tips, printable worksheets, and extra stories.

Other sources of free books include:

  • Your local library
  • Community book banks
  • Little Free Libraries

What Inspired Dolly Parton’s Book Program

Country music star Dolly Parton credits her father with inspiring her to start the Imagination Library. Because he never had the opportunity to go to school as a child, Dolly's dad couldn't read or write. Nevertheless, he worked hard to provide for his wife and their 12 children in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Seeing her father struggle as a result of not being able to read, Dolly decided to create a fun and accessible way for children to learn this skill so that, even if they couldn't afford an education, they could learn about anything that interested them.

The program began in 1995 in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly grew up. The first book order totaled 1,760 books.

Starting a Local Imagination Library

If the Dolly Parton book program isn't available in your area, you can learn how to become an Imagination Library Local Champion and start a program where you live. The Imagination Library is supported by local organizations and individuals who volunteer their time helping children in their community get free books.

After submitting your information on the website, a regional representative will contact you to help get the process going.

Free Materials

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Free Book Club for Kids

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