For Readers

Finding Kids Books Online

By: Hidden Gems on May 14, 2018

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on May 14, 2018

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If you have a young child in your house, then you’re probably used to reading them stories. Whether at bedtime or during the day, reading together is not only a great bonding experience but opens your child’s mind to new thoughts and ideas.  But while repetition is comforting to the little ones, you need to add some variety as well.  Even if it’s just for your own sanity.

Trips to the library can be fun when your own collection starts to run thin, but they aren’t always practical.  Especially when you have a cranky child waiting to begin his or her nightly adventure – a problem that the internet was almost designed to solve.

What are the options for kids books online, then?

Turns out, there are plenty – including us here at Hidden Gems!

However, while the internet is filled with rich content for young minds, it’s important to be informed of recent research so that you make the best choices in how to use all of this online media.

Electronics Before Bedtime

The most important factor to consider here is the impact that electronics have on children and their sleep patterns. Studies show that too many bright lights, videos or exciting games right before bed can have a determinantal impact on sleep.

Does that mean online books for children shouldn’t be used at all during bedtime?

Not necessarily, but it does mean you should consider how they’re used.  For instance, you may want to limit nighttime exposure to the bright lights of your tablet, or a funny and exciting animated Youtube video that acts out their favorite nursey rhyme. It might even be better to choose bedtime stories that don’t require the child to see the screen at all, or at the very least keep the brightness of the device turned down and limit exposure to quick glimpses of pictures or illustrations within the eBook.

As a child gets older and you move away from stories with pictures, this becomes a lot easier.

With this research in mind, we’ll discuss online reading options in the context of both age and how appropriate they are for use at bedtime.

Getting Free Kids Books From Hidden Gems

You’re forgiven if you never considered Hidden Gems as a source for kids books online. After all, most kids don’t have their own Amazon account to leave reviews… but they don’t need one, since it would be much better, and safer, for you to leave reviews on their behalf.

The Hidden Gems ARC service has a Children’s Books category, where authors send out free kids books to our subscribers. The intention is for you to sign up for these books to read along with or to your child. Not only will this provide you with an endless supply of new authors and stories for kids of all ages, but it also gives you a chance to discuss the book with your child afterwards. Give them a chance to form their own opinion about what they liked or didn’t like about the book, in their own words.  Then you can go online and post a review for them on your account.

The great thing about this is that you are teaching your child early about thinking critically and forming their own opinions. Then if you decide to share that review, you control it by writing it yourself on your account without exposing anything more about your child than you decide necessary.

Our authors offer all sorts of kids books regularly, so you can save the more text heavy ones for bedtime and the heavily illustrated ones for story time during the day.

If this sounds like something you want to try, sign up for our free service now and make sure to select Children’s Books as one of your genres of interest.  Or if you’re already a subscriber, just add that genre to your list via your personal dashboard.

Of course, there are other ways to get kids books online as well, even free ones, so let us give you a few examples with a breakdown of their pros and cons.

Quick and Familiar Classics for the Youngest

Repetition is comforting for younger children, which is why parents so often turn to the classics. The younger they are, the shorter their attention span, so you might start with nursery rhymes and eventually end up with classic fables as they age. Still, for your own sanity you probably want to limit just how many times you recite Humpty Dumpty or tell the story of Hansel and Gretel, so it’s helpful to have more options available.

Let’s Play Music has a number of songs and stories available, including nursery rhymes, and while most of them include a link to a Youtube video singing the song, the site also includes the words if you just want to read it yourself and avoid excessive nighttime electronic stimulation.

You can get an even bigger list of nursery rhymes without the images from Wikipedia, each one taking you not only to a page about the specific nursery rhyme, but with all the words and sometimes alternate variations.

If your child is ready for slightly longer classic fables, many of those can be found online for free as well, allowing you to choose the story you want and start reading.

Still, even with multiple options, most of these sources don’t change much so if you’re reading one or more of these a night, you’ll find yourself repeating yourself whether your child wants you to or not.

Original Stories for a Slightly Older Audience

As your child’s age starts to rise, so does their desire for longer and more original bedtime tales. Luckily, those too can be found online, albeit with the same caveats as mentioned above.  There are multiple sources of quality material, but a lot of it doesn’t change very often and is heavily reliant on multimedia so may be more suitable to reading during the day instead of at bedtime.

Ready to Read provides a number of well known books that allow young readers to read along.  By providing a video of the book pages, along with karaoke style word highlighting, a voiceover narrates the book aloud and lets readers follow along.  While that makes it not as suitable for a bedtime routine, it does make it useful for children learning to read on their own during the day.

Children’s Storybooks Online have stories available in three categories – Young Children, Older Children and Young Adults.  While their selection is fairly limited, the stories are mostly text with just a few illustrations that could be skipped, if so desired, by someone using this site for bedtime story reading. Most of the stories are fairly short, which works fine for younger children but may not be long enough for most Young Adults.

Freechildrenstories.com also breaks their stories into three categories, but for them it’s by specific age range. 3-5, 5-8 and 8-10.  There are only a limited selection of books, and all of them either told via an animated video or with traditional text heavily supplemented by illustrations, making this source more suitable for daytime reading.

For user created content, Story Jumper is a good choice. It has a unique concept in that authors use the platform to create graphical storybooks that children can flip through and read on their own, or listen to the included narration.  Still, since the books all rely fairly heavily on their art, it’s really a site that should be used by a child during the day on a tablet or computer. The one benefit to this site is that because the content is created by authors directly, there should be new books appearing regularly.

Longer Content For Older Children

As readers get older, the stories they’re after are more in-depth and less reliant on imagery.  Because of this, the ideal way to read this content would be on an e-reader since those are designed to be easiest on the eyes for nighttime reading by mimicking paper using e-ink, but at the same time can also be read on other devices through software.  Luckily, there are plenty of sources for content for small children up through young adults.

Project Gutenberg is an online source of free books that can be downloaded and added to your e-reader or tablet. The stories are generally available for free because of expired copyrights, which means the site is mostly limited to much older books.

Amazon is the biggest retailer in the world and got its start selling books.  Their books are organized into lists by genre and in top lists based on popularity. The best thing is that many authors offer their books for free as a limited time promotion, and you can find those on the free version of those bestseller lists. The books are constantly changing, though, and what was free once may not always remain so in the future.

Just remember, this list isn’t exhaustive and the internet is always changing and updating. There are many more sources for kids books online, all of which are just a Google away.  But hopefully these ideas are a helpful place to start.

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