Many teachers and parents use Epic to access hundreds of books at little to no cost. Many others use sources such as Storyline Online or Youtube Channels to access read alouds. What surprises me is that few parents and teachers are aware of Open Library.
At Open Library, you can access thousands of digitized books that are completely free. Simply create a free account and within a few clicks, you will have access to hundreds of thousands of books.
I also want to notes that I am not affiliated with Open Library in any way. I am simply sharing a resource that has been invaluable to me and my colleagues.
Recommended Classroom Use
I recommend using Open Library for interactive read alouds or even shared reading. If you have a projector or Smartboard, you can borrow the book you’re reading, display it on the board, and read aloud as students follow along. Although I love having the physical copy of the book to read aloud, one thing that is nice about these digitized books is you are able to display them on a large screen, making it easier for students to see.
I do NOT recommend giving students free reign of Open Library. This would not be a good resource for students to use during centers or independent work. I recommend using a site with more limited book choices, such as Epic.
What Limitations Are There?
For the most part, my experience using Open Library has been pretty seamless. There are a just a couple of limitations I want to point out if you are planning to use Open Library in your classroom.
- Books are available to borrow for one hour at a time. However, this is not usually an issue. If your loan expires, you can simply click borrow again. There is no limit to how many times you can borrow a certain book.
- Teachers aren’t able to create a linked account with students, so it is not possible to customize the library or assign certain books to students.
- Open Library is a compilations of hundreds of thousands of digitized books of all genres and intended audiences. While many are children’s books, there are many more that are meant for older audiences. There is no way to filter this content for children.
Open Library is a great resource for parents and teachers to use with kids. However, I don’t recommend letting children use Open Library without guidance.
FREE Books for the Elementary Classroom
Here are just a few amazing picture books that you can enjoy for free at Open Library.
- Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack
- Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
- Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey
- Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
- A Different Pond by Bao Phi
- Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
- Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
- A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting
- Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
- More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby
- The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
- My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
- Cocoa Ice by Diana Applebaum
Free Books for Every Season
You can find free digitized books for fall, winter, spring, and summer to borrow in your classroom or at home. Read on for some of my favorite books that are available at Open Library.
Fall Books to Borrow
Below are some of my favorite autumn books that are available for free at Open Library. Lessons to accompany these books, both free and paid, are available in my store. Follow me on TpT for more free resources to be released soon.
- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
- In November by Cynthia Rylant
- Hello Harvest Moon by Ralph J. Fletcher
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
- Run, Turkey, Run by Diane Mayr
- Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray
- A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
- Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
- Turkey Bowl by Phil Bildner
- Because of an Acorn by Lola Schaefer
Winter Books to Borrow
My favorite free winter books on Open Library are listed below. Again, you can find activities and freebies for many of these books in my store.
- Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
- The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel
- Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
- Brave Irene by William Steig
- The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
- Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco
- The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino
- Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold
- Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Spring Books to Borrow
There are plenty of fabulous free books to borrow for springtime. Lessons to accompany many of these books are available in my store. Feel free to follow for updates and free activities.
- The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
- A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry
- Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
- Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
- Down Comes the Rain by Franklin Branley
- City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
- The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola
- How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball by David Shannon
- It’s An Ant’s Life by Steve Parker
Summer Books to Borrow
A few of my favorite kid-friendly summer books available on Open Library are listed below.
- Hello, Ocean! by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
- Ragweed by Avi
- Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
- The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy
- Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson
- Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies
Final Thoughts on Open Library
New books are consistently being added to this digital library catalog. Open Library is building towards an online platform where you can find every book ever published. Search for the title and author you are looking for, and Open Library is likely to have it!
For more teaching ideas and resources, follow me on Pinterest. You can also find lessons for these books in my TpT store.
I hope you enjoy!
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