Whether or not you’re working from home, the COVID-19 lockdown has given us all some extra time. No more dashing out the door for various after-school activities, playdates, or parties. Instead, we’re filling our days new movies and TV shows, puzzles, family video games, and something many of us have missed: reading.
Looking for some good books to read in quarantine? There are loads of free e-books online, including special story times for toddlers missing their weekly visits to the library.
1. Libraries (Online)
Most libraries have ebooks that you can download for free. All you need is a library card! And, if you don’t have a library card, in some cases, you can get an ecard. For example, the Boston Public Library allows anyone living in Massachusetts to obtain an ecard, allowing you to access all of their e-resources: Overdrive for books and Hoopla for audiobooks. If you already have a library card, you can download the app Libby for easy searching and downloading.
2. Goodnight with Dolly
Dolly Parton reading bedtime stories to your kid might just be the silver lining of this whole quarantine thing. The whole family can put on their PJs, snuggle up together, and get fuzzy feelings listening to the legend herself read bedtime stories.
3. Storyline Online
Storyline Online is particularly great for working-from-home parents with smaller kids. While you’re trying to having a conference call, instead of putting on the TV, why not have one of your favorite celebrities read to your kids? While you’ll likely be more excited about the person reading it (Lily Tomlin?! Betty White?! Oprah!? Christian Slater!) than they will, your kids will surely enjoy the animated readings.
4. Sesame Street
Sesame Street does it again! They’ve made over a hundred of their books available for free on Apple Books, Nook, Google Play and Kobo. There are several educational books here, too, helpful for kids who suddenly find themselves not going to preschool.
With classics like Anne of Green Gables and The Wizard of Oz, Manybooks has a wide variety of books for you to download and read. There are also contemporary books by lesser-known authors, so you just may find yourself a new favorite author to follow!
6. Kindle Unlimited/Prime
Right now, Amazon is offering two months free with their Kindle Unlimited service, which is an extra month free. Now might be the perfect time to start reading Harry Potter with your kids; all seven books are available both on Kindle Unlimited and for Prime members. Prime members can also enjoy two free audio books from Audible.
7. Open Culture
More educational, Open Culture has 800 online books ranging from Aesop’s Fables to Ray Bradbury, as well as 200 free textbooks (if you want to be that person) and 1,000 free audiobooks. The site also has online courses, language classes and more.
Related: How To Stream Broadway Shows At Home
9. International Children’s Library
If you’re sick of the typical stories for kids, look no further. The International Children’s Library Foundation’s goal is to “build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.” You’ll be able to open your kids eyes to stories, lore and mythology from different parts of the world. You can search by country, keyword, author and more. The books are scanned, so you may also find sweet inscriptions—the first book I clicked on was a book of fairy tales (Wonder Wings) from New Zealand, with a sweet inscription signed “Grandad, Mounmouth 1930.”
10. Rivited Lit
For the teens in your life, look no further than Rivited Lit from Simon Teen. After signing up for their mailing list, you can get one free eBook, plus they have free excerpts from books, as well as full books you can read for free without signing up. (I will never cease being jealous of how the YA genre has taken off. I pretty much had to go from Babysitter’s Club straight to Maeve Binchy when I was a teen, there was no in-between!)
For children 12 and under, Epic! has 40,000 books available online. They offer 30 days free, or are offering free access for teachers, who can in turn give parents a code to use for free access through June 30. There’s a wide array of books, from STEM books, DIY Books (including cookbooks, if you want to use this time to teach your child to cook!), biographies, classics, and more! Plus, if you want to make sure your kid is actually reading, they supply quizzes!
For the older, more ambitious, Bookboon offers free university textbooks, as well as a free 30-day trial for professional books (think How to Create Great Reports in the World or Leadership and Mindfullness). It might be time to sharpen your professional skills while logging into work wearing your pajamas!
LibriVox offers thousands of free audiobooks of books in the public domain (in 2020, that’s books published after 1924). Now may be the time to introduce your kids to Jane Austen, listen to Pride and Prejudice, and then watch the 1995 version together (as far as we’re concerned, there is no other version). Or, for science fiction fans, listen to some Jules Verne books. You can search by genre, author, title, and language.
Like Librivox, but for reading, Feedbooks has hundreds of public domain books available to download. Authors like Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and for the theatre lovers, Shakespeare, are available. They also have newer books available to download for a fee per book.
I’ve been signed up for Bookbub for years now. They email you daily with different ebook bargains, some of which are free! I find the email super helpful, but you can also just browse the site to see what’s available. Like Goodreads, bestselling authors recommend their favorite books.
Scribd has a 30-day free trial, which includes both ebooks and audio books, plus magazines. While sitting with a book may seem too luxurious while you’re stuck at home with the kids, an audiobook may be just what you need. Download bestsellers like the third and final installment of the Wolf Hall series, The Mirror and the Light. There are loads of children’s and YA books, too.
More Things to Do At Home:
Movie Night Kit
Mom’s Self Care Kit
Keeping Kids Busy While At Home
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