March 10, 2012

Free Books at Your Fingertips!

kindle by booksI’m the owner of a Kindle because I love books.  As a matter of fact my family owns two Kindles now so that the children are not always sneaking away with mine!  We don’t own the fancy Kindle Fire that offers color pictures and game apps like many other products on the market, just basic Kindle models for reading.  Today I wanted to share the many places online that offer free books in Kindle format to download for your family’s reading pleasure.  I’ll also share a bit about how this can be used in homeschooling at the very end – so keep reading!
First let me share a secret – you don’t need to own a Kindle to use Kindle books!  If you have a computer, laptop, IPod Touch, Android phone or other similar device you can use Kindle books for free.  I said F-R-E-E!  You can learn more about how to do that right here, so get ready, I’ve got thousands of free books to tell you about and you can get started reading today. 

Places to Find Free Kindle Books

 

Amazon

This is the obvious place to begin because Amazon is the creator of the Kindle.  I have learned a few tricks to finding free books here.  First, I regularly visit the Bestsellers in Kindle E-books page.  On the left you’ll see 100 books to buy, while on the right are the top 100 free books.  This page is updated hourly.  I usually check in here once or twice a week to see if anything new has popped up.  Amazon is always offering Kindle books for free and they regularly change those offerings.  A Warning!!! Please do not browse the top 100 page with children nearby.  Sadly there are often inappropriate books in the list with cover art that I don’t want to see, much less expose a child to.
The Kindle Limited-Time Offers page is worth checking out too. Here you’ll find a mix of free and paid books at sale prices.  There is always quite a variety.
The Kindle Popular Classics page is a gold mine of free books. Currently there are more than 15,000 results on this page. Have at it!  A few of the books I’ve downloaded from this section include:
  • The Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum – my family has had fun reading several of these books with our homeschool book club.
  • More than 40 historical adventure books aimed at boys by G. A. Henty (a Christian author) – These are good for reading aloud but they are even better to offer to sons in the tween to teen years.  Strong, moral heroes set in real historical events make for boy-friendly reading.
  • Pride and Prejudice and others by Jane Austen – Okay, these have been just for me right now. 
  • Treasure Island – Pirates, treasure, and adventure.  This is our current book club pick!
  • Little Women, Little Men, and sequels – All my children loved Little Men and my oldest has enjoyed what we’ve read together of Little Women.
The next trick I’ve learned when searching for free Kindle books on Amazon is to go to a category in the Kindle store such as Children’s Books and sort the list using the drop down menu on the right.  I choose to sort by “Price: Low to High”.  This puts all the free books first!   

Project Gutenberg

My next stop for free Kindle books is Project Gutenberg, a site with over 33,000 free ebooks. I usually start by browsing their bookshelf collections. On this site the files you want will be labeled Kindle or MOBI format. I download them to my computer and then plug in my Kindle with the USB cord. Find the files and drag and drop them into the Kindle drive’s Documents folder and you’re all set!  You can drag and drop them into the Kindle app on a computer, as well as some portable devices.
You may find the free Kindle application on Apple products like an IPod Touch to be a bit limited as you can’t just load Kindle files from sources outside of Amazon directly (like these from Project Gutenberg) .  However, Amazon has a Send to Kindle program where you can upload documents to your Amazon account, which then makes them accessible by these apps.  There may be fees involved, you can learn more here.  I have not used this option so be sure you read their information pages to see how it works.

Archive.org

Archive.org is another place filled with public domain books to download. You can search the site or browse collections like the Children’s Library. When you click on a title to learn more about it you will see a box on the left of the screen with the many formats available to download, including Kindle. Download the file to your computer and then plug in a Kindle with the USB cord. Find the files and drag and drop them into the Kindle drive Documents Folder and you’re all set! My most recent download from here is The Story of Doctor Doolittle.

Ambleside Online


Ambleside Online is a free Charlotte Mason based educational website.  While we do not choose to use this site as the basis for our homeschooling, I have found here Charlotte Mason’s original 6 volume Home Education series in Kindle/MOBI format for free.  The files you need for Kindle are at the bottom of this long page.  Look for the words: “Courtesy of Blossom Barden: .prc files for eReader”.  Those are the ones to download. 

Blogs

There are also blogs around the web all about using a Kindle and finding the free or specially priced e-books as they appear. One easy place to find listings of those blogs is this Kindle Wiki page

Using Free Kindle Books in Homeschooling

I don’t know about your family but mine has a limited budget to spend on books and limited space for shelves of books to live.  Picture a 3 bedroom house with 9 people in it.  We love books but they’re just not comfortable as beds and couches.  We have to leave room for some furniture!  We do use the library but having a whole library of books at our fingertips inspires us to read and helps us avoid late fees. 
Another reason to pursue e-books is the availability of titles written in earlier times and now free in the public domain.  Many of the books published for children and youth today are not ‘pure, virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy’ reading material.  Books written 75 or more years ago, especially for children and youth, almost all fit these qualities because society generally accepted nothing less. 
Even if a book today passes that test it may be written down to a child in the simplest words possible instead of using expressive words in a beautiful way.  Our children will rise or sink to meet the material they are fed.  Let us look at the beginning of a fairy tale to illustrate this. 

Sample 1: Little Red Riding Hood as written in the 21st Century

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a village near the forest. Whenever she went out, the little girl wore a red riding cloak, so everyone in the village called her Little Red Riding Hood.”

Sample 2: Little Red Riding Hood from The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, 1889

“Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had made for her a little red riding-hood; which became the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding-Hood.”
Can you hear the difference between the two passages?  Read them out loud.  What picture does each one evoke?  The words used to tell the story matter on many levels.  Newer and simpler is not always better.
There are many quality books available in Kindle format written in earlier generations to children and youth in the areas of science, history, and literature.  A friend of mine wrote a wonderful post organizing many of these titles by category and listing general ages.  She even linked the titles for you to easily find the free download.  Check out Ami’s post here.  Does your child or family have a burning interest in animals and nature?  Try the books in her list by Clara Dillingham Pierson or Thornton Burgess.  Looking for short biographies to go with a time period your family is studying?  Check out books by James Baldwin.  Need a family read aloud or bedtime stories?  There are free Kindle books at any of the links in this post to fit the need. 
Tristan is the happily married wife to one good man and mother to 7 blessings ages 10, 7, 6, 4, 3, 1, and 2 months old.  She blogs at Our Busy Homeschool about their life in general and shares their journey with Spina Bifida at Mason’s Spina Bifida Journal.

13 comments - Add a comment below -:

Evenspor said...

Great article. We have found having a kindle has enhanced schooling for us too. As you mentioned, we have enjoyed using free classics as read-alouds (my son LOVED Secret Garden), and I've been able to get some good picture books for them too, including a few beginner readers, which my reluctant reader is more likely to read than anything on our shelves.

There's a great website now for finding out what the latest free books on amazon are:

http://www.ereaderiq.com/free/

By popular request, they now filter out erotica from the main list. Something occasionally still creeps in, but it is pretty rare.

Also don't overlook library lending. Check your local library's website. Most have Overdrive now, and borrowing kindle books through it is very easy.

Dana ♥ said...

We love our Kindle too! We need to get another as well, because I have to pry it out of my children's hands to use it!

I have enjoyed this resource: http://ereadernewstoday.com/category/free-kindle-books/
They offer free books daily, we browse through and download the one's we want.

We also have the scriptures on our Kindle, the Ensign and Daughters of my Kingdom and the lesson manuals.

In addition to all those titles, we check out kindle books through our online library portal. ♥ our Kindle!

JRoberts said...

Thank you Tristian!

You have put together and wonderful list. We use our iPad to read, and let me tell you...I want another as well. :)

I am running over to check your links right away. Thank you again.

Melissa said...

Great post! I'm bookmarking to save all the links. If you want to email books to your Kindle, make sure you send it to your @free.kindle.com email so it won't charge you.

Chasity said...

Thanks for the awesome post! I can't wait to check out all of the links!

Anne said...

Wow, what a great post! Thanks so much for compiling this information.

I'm right there with you on the quality of children's literature and the Red Riding Hood example illustrated the point very well.

Suzuki Mom said...

Great post!

Another good location is

www.manybooks.net

and

http://www.mobipocket.com/freebooks/default.aspx

Note that you can download a free mobipocket reader for older devices like palm pilots... it is basically the same format as Kindle, except it won't read the amazon Kindle books. My kids each have a Palm Pilot we got for free on Freecycle.

Lisa said...

I like what you pointed out about books from a previous era. The second sample of Little Red Riding Hood was quite beautiful. Would you think that stories then were much more eloquent because the fairy tales were entended entertain a broader range of ages where as now fairy tales are aimed almost solely at preschoolers?

Carrie said...

I LOVE my Kindle and am so excited to see this post! There is one particular book (series really. "Little Britches"), I have been looking for and our public library doesn't have it. Amazon sells it but it isn't on Kindle (the 1st one at least...) and we have a limited budget for books also...I am going to check the other places you referenced. If it isn't there I may just have to bite the bullet and buy it! Thanks for sharing all this amazing information. I love free Kindle books. :)

Dawn said...

Another reason I love having a Kindle is because I never know where I might end up with a few spare moments or what mood I'll be in. What, I overslept and didn't have time to read the scriptures. No problem I can read them while waiting for piano lessons to finish. The wait at the doctor's office goes long. No problem I can search one of my cookbooks for a few new recipes and when I'm done I can read a downloadable library book. Ooops, I'm too chatty dropping something off at a friend's. My daughter can read some of her homework and work on the quotes she's memorizing (you can upload TEXT files) while she waits. There are serious advantages to having your library available at any time.

For me the only downside of the Kindle itself is the poor bookmarking features. I like the notes but not bookmarks. As far as I can tell I can't label my marks (personal scripture study, family scripture study, etc) and the notes and bookmarks pull up together which is a real pain when you have a lot of notes. Maybe an advanced user knows how to do those things and could give suggestions. But on the whole I love it.

Jessica said...

We have four kindles in our house and love them! I'm all for the free classics! Now if I could only download the Harry Potter series on my kindle my happiness would be complete! :)

Jon said...

I prefer google e-books myself over Kindle free books and archive dot org (I used to like archive dot org). What makes google e-books nice is that they come with pictures too. I use Calibre e-book manager to change the book from epub to mobi format and the newest version let's you upload it to your Kindle for effortless upload.

mahani said...

We don't have Kindle so we have it on our PC. Thank you so much for sharing this information.