Skip to main content
Finding Children’s Books in a Pandemic

Children’s Books

Finding Children’s Books in a Pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt, educators who find themselves working with students either within or outside of school walls or both have an increased need for digital content and access to books. Many organizations and publishers who already make it their mission to support readers are doing even more to assist educators, caregivers, and families in light of the pandemic.

Sources of books, audiobooks, digital books, and online texts and news


For as long as schools are closed, Audible is offering children and teenagers the chance to listen to audiobooks for free (opens in a new window). Instantly hundreds of Audible originals, fairy tales or classic books, including titles across eight different languages. Audible (opens in a new window)

Benetech’s Bookshare

Bookshare provides students with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers with access to more than 800,000 titles in easy-to-read formats, such as audio, braille or large font. Bookshare is free for qualified (opens in a new window) U.S. students of any age through an award from OSEP (opens in a new window) (Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education).

Bookshare also offers nearly 10,000 public domain books that anyone, including non-members, can read with Bookshare Web Reader and other compatible tools. Learn how to find and read freely available Bookshare books (opens in a new window). Benetech’s Bookshare (opens in a new window)

Better World Books

Better World Books receives books from libraries, booksellers, book drives, and through community Drop Boxes, sells what they can to raise money for literacy, and donates books in good condition. Request (opens in a new window) to become a donation recipient. Better World Books (opens in a new window)

Bushel & Peck Books

Bushel & Peck Books offers an online care package (opens in a new window) with links to their titles that can be read for free online along with downloads for some coloring books and activity books. You can also get the free title A Place Called Hope (opens in a new window), a new book that acknowledges the hard times we’re experiencing but encourages hope. Bushel & Peck Books (opens in a new window)


CommonLit, a nonprofit education technology organization, offers some 2,000 high-quality free reading passages (opens in a new window) for grades 3-12, complemented by aligned interim assessments, growth-oriented data, and expert-led teacher development. Content types of theme, text set, book pairing, and unit can help you find relevant collections of texts to fit your students’ needs. CommonLit (opens in a new window)


DKfindout! is a free safe, fun place for kids to research, learn, and explore information about animals, space, sports, music and more. In addition to interactive articles, there are quizzes, videos and animations as well as resources for teachers (opens in a new window). DKfindout! (opens in a new window)


Epic! is a digital reading platform for kids 12 and under with more than 45,000 thousand high-quality and award-winning fiction and nonfiction books, audio books, and videos. Free for teachers and librarians, Epic School gives students free access to content for both in-class and remote learning. Epic Free gives students access to a free home library providing two free hours of reading a week that can be used afterschool or on weekends. Epic! (opens in a new window)

First Book

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational resources to eligible (opens in a new window) schools and programs serving children in need, from birth to age 18. Educators who register (opens in a new window) with First Book gain access to free books from the First Book National Book Bank (opens in a new window) and low-cost books and resources from the First Book Marketplace (opens in a new window).

As part of First Book’s COVID-19 response, eligibility is extended to those working to distribute resources to kids in need through an emergency program (e.g., a food bank, grab & go meal site, faith-based organization, etc.). Organizations now providing essential resources directly to a subset of the population usually served (where 70% or more of those families are low-income), are also eligible. Learn more here (opens in a new window) or sign up now (opens in a new window).

Registered First Book members can also access a free digital library of eBooks by ordering access codes for the Open eBooks (opens in a new window) app. The free iOS and Android Open eBooks app lends titles for kids of all ages to instantly download up to 10 eBooks at a time to their mobile digital devices or Chromebook with access to the Google Play Store. First Book (opens in a new window)


Flyleaf Publishing is offering free use of some of its collection of decodable books through the 2020-2021 school year. Visit their online materials portal (opens in a new window). Flyleaf (opens in a new window)

Literacy Empowerment Foundation

LEF’s Reading Resource Project (opens in a new window) 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. Reading Resource Project books are available in a limited quantity on a first come, first served basis. Literacy Empowerment Foundation (opens in a new window)

Little Free Library

A Little Free Library is a place to find a book or bring a book to share and play an essential role by providing 24/7 access to free books. Find Little Free Libraries (opens in a new window) in neighborhoods all over the world, all with different offerings. Know that Little Free Library stewards are taking extra precautions during the pandemic and some are temporarily closing their Little Free Libraries, which is recommended if a community is a hotspot for coronavirus activity. Little Free Library (opens in a new window)

National Geographic Learning

The National Geographic Education Resource Library (opens in a new window) contains a wealth of free articles for Pre-K-12 students. Educators can also share issues of Explorer Magazine (opens in a new window) with students. National Geographic Learning (opens in a new window)


Newsela takes real and new content from trusted sources and turns it into classroom learning materials. Though Newsela has now moved to a mostly subscription-based model, there is still some accessible content for free (opens in a new window). With a subscription, you’ll gain access to a great library of leveled reading materials and Newsela’s Text Sets, which offer thematically curated articles. Newsela (opens in a new window)

Public Libraries

Depending on where a library is, during the pandemic it may provide something close to full service to complete closure. Check in to see what your local library is offering. Many provide access to audiobooks and ebooks as well as online magazines and journals. Public Libraries (opens in a new window)


ReadWorks offers free resources (opens in a new window) for differentiated reading instruction, including nonfiction texts, activities, assessments, and features such as Article-a-Day. In ReadWorks’ Student Library, students can explore thousands of high-quality texts based on their interests. ReadWorks (opens in a new window)


Scholastic offers more than 12 digital learning programs (opens in a new window) to support students of all levels and abilities in their journey to learn to read and read to learn. Scholastic Book Clubs is also making it easier to get books to students by offering a “ship to home (opens in a new window)” option for students. Scholastic (opens in a new window)

Skybrary from Reading Is Fundamental

Skybrary is a carefully curated interactive library of eBooks and real-world video explorations designed to engage young readers and foster a love of reading. The free trial of Skybrary for School (opens in a new window) provides 30 days of unrestricted access to hundreds of books and video field trips. Skybrary from Reading Is Fundamental (opens in a new window)

Star Bright Books

To help support teachers, educators, librarians, parents, and caregivers during the pandemic, publisher Star Bright Books is providing free digital access (opens in a new window) to 4 picture books (3 English, 1 Spanish) each week. Titles will be rotated on a weekly basis and cannot be downloaded, printed, or redistributed. Star Bright Books (opens in a new window)

Video read alouds

In addition to digital texts, audio books, and print materials, publishers and others are providing access to many titles through online video read alouds:

More resources

You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.

Related Topics

Children’s Books, Libraries