How to Read Books for Free

Find out how to read books for free with your family — both ebooks online and physical books. You’ll save money, save time, and create lasting memories.

We all like getting free stuff, but it’s even better when what we’re getting is really valuable. One of the perks of being a blogger is getting sent free stuff. From the two baby carriers to the grain mill, food dehydrator, and water purifier, I’ve received some valuable goodies over the years, but those don’t come close to one thing I got back in high school.

As I was going through some papers in my office recently, my daughter looked at an old newspaper clipping and asked, “Who’s that man standing with you, Mama?”

The man was the owner of a local car dealership, and he was handing me the keys to a brand new magenta Dodge Neon. I’d won it thanks to a raffle they put on for graduating seniors.

Talk about a valuable freebie! But you don’t have to be that lucky to get valuable knowledge and experiences through free books.

woman reading on a couch

How to Get Free Books for Your Family

Today, I’ll show you how to:

  1. Upload free ebooks onto your Kindle
  2. Find classic books for free that you and your kids will enjoy
  3. Find and read free ebooks through your library (without leaving home)
  4. Get even brand new books without spending a dime

1. How to Quickly Get Any PDF or eBook Onto your Kindle

Have you come across a free download online that looks interesting? But what mom has time to sit at the computer and digest the whole thing? Let me show you how to quickly upload it to your Kindle, so you can read it on the go.

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

There are lots of great free books available to read online, but you'll be much more likely to actually read them if you know how to get them onto your Kindle. Here's how.
I recently downloaded a freebie from Brave Writer. I didn’t have time to read it right then, so I uploaded it to my Kindle to read during my kids’ next swimming lesson.
  • The easiest way I have found to do this is through the Send to Kindle app. It’s a free little program from Amazon that you can download to your computer.
  • Then if you have any PDF or ebook file you want to read, simply right click on it and select Send to Kindle.
  • Select the devices you’d like to have it send to. Then click Send.

That’s it! Your ebook file will be available next time you open up your Kindle. But how do you find these free ebooks to upload?

An infinite amount of reading material is available for free online (you can even upload blog articles from the Send to Kindle app). Most blogs have some type of freebie. You can also find thousands of high-quality ebooks both new and old, which I’ll show you next.

2. How to Find Free Books from the Public Domain

There is so much classic literature available for both kids and grownups. You could easily stay busy reading for a lifetime and never have to purchase anything. There are two easy ways to find these materials.

How to Find Free Books in the Public Domain on Amazon

The first is a simple Amazon search.

  • Go to the Kindle Store and search for an older book that you’d like to read.
  • Scroll down until you see one for $0.00. These typically have a plain-Jane cover, so they’re easy to spot.

I still love holding a paper book in my hands, but I have been able to quickly grab some fantastic read-aloud books for my littles when I need something to occupy them. One of our very favorites is My Father’s Dragon.

How to Read Free Books in the Public Domain on Project Gutenberg.

Secondly, you can find over 59,000 free ebooks through Project Gutenberg. You can do a search or browse the bookshelf, and you can take your pick. A wealth of historical literature for children and adults is available, which can be particularly helpful if you’re homeschooling.

Now imagine you were studying India. You could select a book on Indian Fairy Tales and download in Kindle format. Then use the Send to Kindle app we discussed above to upload it to your Kindle. Or this collection of stories by Beatrix Potter.

Project Gutenberg has thousands of free ebooks your family will love. Many of them are classics like these from Beatrix Potter.
Project Gutenberg has thousands of free ebooks your family will love. Many of them are classics like these from Beatrix Potter.

What if you want to read something a little more modern?

3. How to Check Out eBooks from Your Library (without Leaving Home)

If you have a library card, you can check out eBooks and audiobooks from your library online without ever leaving home. Many libraries use Overdrive to manage their digital titles, and this makes it easy to check out, download, and read.

  • First, set up an account with Overdrive. You’ll need to enter your library card number to sign up. Then, you can log in with your Facebook account in the future for more convenience.
  • You can either search for books on your computer or if you prefer, you can download the Overdrive phone app for free. It’s called Libby. The app allows you to search for books and audiobooks, send them to your devices, or read them directly within the app itself.
Read popular newer titles for free on Overdrive through your local library (without ever leaving home.)
Read popular newer titles for free on Overdrive through your local library (without ever leaving home.)

Just as with a traditional library, there are only a certain number of titles available, so you may need to place a hold and wait your turn. Not all titles are available depending on which ones your library has selected, but it’s always worth it to check and see if you can find what you want. It only takes a second.

However, if that doesn’t work, there’s still one more way to read that new book that your favorite author just published for free.

4. How to Read Paper Books for Free (Even New Releases

Is it just me, or does it seem like every time you listen to a podcast or talk to a friend, there’s another book on your reading list? If we bought them all, it’d cost a fortune! But there is another way.

Even if your library doesn’t have the book you want in its physical or digital holdings, you can request that they purchase it. This is one of my favorite things because I can get almost any brand new book I want without having to pay for it.

  • To make a request, talk to a librarian, or log into your local library account.
  • Look for the area where you can make purchase suggestions. There will usually be a simple form you can fill out including the title, author, copyright date, and ISBN number.
  • If your request is approved, at least at my library, it will automatically be put on hold for you as soon as it arrives.

And almost all of the books I’ve ever requested have been approved. These even include some that were in special interest categories, such as those regarding specific health topics, business, faith, and parenting. For instance, I requested Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna and a couple of weeks later, received notice that it was ready and waiting to be picked up at the library.

Aren’t there still books that you can’t get for free?

Sure, there will always be some books that you can get for free, and there are certainly some that are worth paying for. But I read dozens of books every year, and rarely pay for any of them. I do buy ones that I want to read again or need to use for reference. Other than that my book budget stays tiny.

When a new book comes across our radar, sometimes we forget to first look into the many resources to read it for free.

We click that Add to Cart button before thinking. Sometimes, we just crave instant gratification, but with all of the available resources, you can even enjoy instant downloads and new books without ever having to pay for them.

Next Steps

So, next time you hear about a must-read book for yourself or your kids, first look for it free in the public domain, online, or from the digital holdings at your library. If you need to, use the Send to Kindle app to upload it. And if the book you want isn’t available, make a request for your library to purchase it. Chances are they will.

Getting free books to read with your family will not only help your budget but can also change your life thanks to the memories you make together and the new worlds you can explore. I ended up selling that new car I won to help pay for college, for which I’m very thankful, but it’s the value I’ve gained through books has been even more life-changing.

Want more ways to save money while creating meaningful experiences for your family? See these 29 Free Things to Do at the Library. Or check out these 97 easy budget boosters.

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?

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