Free World U top bar image
Free World U Blog Graphic

Finding Free Books Online: Project Gutenberg and Others

by Miriam Downey 3. February 2012 15:22

The library of Free World U is composed of three parts: a section for books available online, a section of recommended books that are available elsewhere, and a section of research websites. In creating FWU's library, I have utilized several sources to find the books that are important to the curriculum.

Today I would like to share some of my sources for finding books that are available free online. Although I have mentioned this in previous postings, copyrights for books last for 75 years. This means that a book is not legally available to be free online until it is 75 years old. The good news is that most literature we consider to be classic may be available online if it has been digitalized.

Occasionally, authors allow their out-of-print books to appear on book websites, or occasionally books by publishers that have gone out of business will also show up on free websites. This is particularly true of picture books. There are websites of of out-of-print stories as well.

Here are some places to find free ebooks

The most prominent place to find classic ebooks is Project Gutenberg. Thousands of out-of-print books and books whose copyrights have expired can be found on Project Gutenberg. For instance, if you are looking for a book of Mother Goose rhymes, you would would type in Mother Goose in the Gutenberg's book catalog search and up would come a listing of all the editions of Mother Goose Rhymes that are available in their database. There are many choices, and after you pick the one you want, you can either read the book online or download it to your computer or device.

Another way to access classic books is to go to Amazon and search for the title. Recently, I was looking for Wuthering Heights for my Kindle. I went to Amazon and was able to choose the free version which then downloaded to my Kindle. This process is the same as going to the Project Gutenberg website.

My favorite source for picture books that can be read online is We Give Books. For every picture book read online, a book is sent to a prominent charity. I am noticing more and more current books appearing on this website. For instance, the great children's book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper can be found on We Give Books. Another site for classic books is Lit to Go.This site is sponsored by the Universitiy of South Florida, and it has a lot of Spanish editions as well as English editions. It also has books on audio.

Starfall is a website that has a lot of easy reader books for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Starfall utilizes phonics and simple stories to teach reading. The stories are cute, and the settings are fun.

Another great source for online reading is East of the Web. This is a site for short stories, which are arranged by categories, including children's stories, crime, fiction, horror, humor, nonfiction, romance, sci-fi, and interactive. It is very user friendly and a delight for the reader.

If your older child is really into science, history, or social science and you are having a hard time finding materials to satisfy his/her quest for knowledge, I've got a treat for you. One of the best kept secrets on the Internet is the World Catalog, which is a catalog of the holdings of most of the libraries in the United States. For instance, my brother is a fanatic reader of Arctic exploration. By access the World Catalog, he is able to borrow books about Arctic exploration from any library in the United States.

To use it, simply type in a subject in which you are interested and your ZIP code. The search engine will tell you the books on that subject available, beginning with books in libraries closest to you. You can write down the title you are seeking and take it to your local library. They will be able to get it for you using Interlibrary Loan. Swift and nifty.

Perhaps you have discovered another source of online literature that I haven't discussed. Send me a comment, and I will check it out and post it in this blog.


Tags: ,

English | Lessons

About the author


Page List

Month List

Free World U bottom bar image