There are many reasons to love public libraries and all the free resources they offer. My 9-year-old and I are obsessed with our public library.
We check out dozens of books each month, from adventurous read alouds to reference books about his latest interests. But we also have a big home library, and I’ve noticed my child has a different relationship to these books. They’re often the books he’ll read more than once, picking up new things with each reading. Sometimes he’ll bring a book up in a conversation when it’s been a year or more since he last read it.
Research shows that children who also have their own book collections at home have better outcomes at school and are more likely to develop patterns of lifelong literacy. Fortunately, there are many ways to build a home library for your children with free and low-cost books.
Home libraries are powerful. One study led by sociologist Mariah Evans looked at children in 42 different countries. It found that the size of a family’s home library significantly affected how much education a child obtained.
This was especially true for low-income children, even those whose parents had limited formal education themselves. The size of a home library was a better predictor of a child’s academic success than their parents’ income or education level.
A second study found that the effects of home libraries can even be measured as children become adults. Teens with more extensive home libraries had higher literacy rates and better math and technological skills.
So how can families on tight budgets build a home library that will support children’s lifelong learning? Here are 14 resources and ideas for finding free and low-cost children’s books to take home.
Sources for Free Children’s Books
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5. Look for giveaways of new children’s book titles from book bloggers or Instagram accounts. Often when children’s book publishers are releasing new titles, they will offer giveaway copies to bloggers. Some of my favorite Instagrammers and bloggers who frequently give away books are KidLit in Color, Pragmatic Mom, and Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
Goodreads also lists giveaways of new children’s books from publishers.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.