Free e-books and audiobooks for kids

Free e-books and audiobooks for kids

Free e-books and audiobooks for kids

Keeping kids reading as they get older can be a challenge at the best of times but through a tight and extended lockdown, the challenge is made even harder. We are lucky that our local library that is within our 5km (we are currently not allowed to go further than that) is working on click and collect, so we can still borrow books from our local library. I have had emails and messages from readers letting me know that this isn’t the case for them in their lockdown.

To help those who cannot access their local library at the moment I have put together a list of free e-books and audiobooks for kids that you can use at this time or anytime really!

Online lending services

free e-books and audiobooks for kids

There are a number of online lending services that allow you to borrow e-books and audiobooks for free. I am not thrilled about the kids reading e-books as they are currently spending so much time online at the moment with remote learning, but this is a great option if you cannot get your hands on physical books.

The two big providers in Australia are OverDrive and Borrow Box. They are apps you can install on your smart device, either Android or Apple. They allow you to borrow audiobooks and e-books online using your local library account and have them on your device. Once you have downloaded the app, you use your library card and set up an account, and start borrowing.

You can search for titles to download to your device and it is recommended to do this on wifi. You can reserve e-books and audiobooks that are currently on loan and you will be notified when they become available. Once the borrowing period is up, they are automatically removed, so no late fees and no lost discs!

Your library will have set limits on how many e-books and audiobooks you can borrow and/or reserve and any one time. However, you can return e-books and audiobooks as soon as you have listened to/read them and then borrow something else.

The app keeps you at the spot where you finished listening/reading once you close the app and even if you change to another audiobook/e-book in the app. It also has a sleep function for audiobooks that you can set so it turns off in a set period of time.

If you are not sure what books to look for if you are after audiobooks then check out my post 11 audiobooks for older kids.

If you can only access free audiobooks at the moment and are worried that they are “not really reading” I have some good news for you. While audiobooks can not replace the reading experience or assist with learning literacy skills, such as understanding letter-sound relationships and letter patterns for correct pronunciation, as well as building reading stamina, they can be positive in a number of other ways.

UK National Literacy Trust knowledge and research manager Emily Best says research by her organisation found audiobooks can act as “a way in to reading print books” and build literacy skills such as comprehension and vocabulary.

There are many benefits to listening to audio that mirror those of reading, and [these] really helped legitimise their place as part of a child’s reading journey. {source}

So like most things in lockdown, you can only do your best and if you can only access audiobooks for your kids, then this is great.


Spotify is very much transitioning itself from simply a music streaming service to a full-service media services provider. They have made a big play in the podcast arena and they are growing their audiobook category. It isn’t super easy to find audiobooks on Spotify yet but hopefully, it will improve. Spotify is free with ads or you can pay a monthly fee to have no ads.

You need to search for the title or author you are looking for.

free e-books and audiobooks for kids

On the search results page, you may need to scroll down as most often they are listed under podcasts.

free e-books and audiobooks for kids

If you want find an audiobook you want to listen to click ‘Follow’ so it will appear in your library. Then you may need to reorganise the episodes so you can listen to the story in the correct order. For this Frankenstein example, I needed to sort it from Oldest to Newest to have the introduction first.

Not all audiobooks are created equal on Spotify. Some are not created by professional audiobook houses so the quality can be a bit hit and miss. The Harry Potter listed below isn’t the official audiobook for example, but the quality is still pretty good. Here is a list of free kids’ audiobooks on Spotify to get you going:

Audiobooks on Spotify for preschool and primary school kids

Audiobooks on Spotify for secondary school kids

And while you are on Spotify, I can highly recommend subscribing to Allison Taits and Megan Daley’s podcast Your Kids’ Next Read. A super resource if you are always on the lookout for great books for your kids to read.

Where do you source free e-books and audiobooks?