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Ebooks for kids: should you invest in an ereader, and where can you download free ebooks?

For kids who love reading, or those who have holiday homework, an ereader could be on your shopping list this summer season
Kids looking at an ebook on holiday

The summer holidays are upon us, and whether you're planning a week away or staying home, having a good selection of ebooks will ensure you always have great entertainment in the palm of your hand.

For kids in particular, ebooks can be a fun and educational resource. Perhaps their school has set them reading targets, or maybe they just like reading for fun. Whatever the case, knowing where to find great kid-friendly ebooks is a must.

We weigh up the benefits of taking an ereader on holiday, plus reveal where you can access the top titles (both paid-for and free), and how you can toggle parental controls on your child's ereader to give yourself peace of mind while they browse.

Kobo or Kindle? Our tough lab tests make it easy for you to browse our tried and tested models - see our expert ebook reader reviews.

Ebook readers or paper books?

Ebook readers (or ereaders) and paper books both have their pros and cons, so whichever you decide on using will usually come down to your needs and preferences. 

Nothing quite matches the tactile feel of a paper book, and you may be more inclined to steer clear of ereaders as a means to reduce your child's screen time. A robust real book is also more likely to survive a bit of rough and tumble at a sandy beach than its electronic counterpart. It won't run out of battery power either.

However, if you're looking to take multiple reads away with you on holiday, investing in an ereader may be the right thing for you. Some parental settings even let you limit the amount of screen time your child gets (more on that below).

Ereaders are lightweight and portable and you can download and store thousands of titles in one place. So you won't need to worry about packing stacks of bulky books to take away with you. 

Where to get cheap and free ebooks for kids

Ebooks tend to be cheaper than paper books anyway, and you still don't have to spend a fortune to digitally access hundreds of kid-friendly titles. There are resources available so you can get a huge range of ebooks for free (or cheap, at the least). 

For more information, you can head to our guide on where to download free or cheap ebooks.

You can search for and download free children's books from a range of online stores and apps, such as:

  • Amazon Kindle - stocks thousands of popular children's books, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, many of which are completely free to download. You can read on Kindle, Amazon Fire devices, Apple and Android devices, or on the internet.
  • Google Play Books - sells a huge range of kid-friendly ebooks, plus you can search for books by age range or sub-genre on the online Google Play Store. Google Play Books can be read on Android smartphones and tablets, or on your computer.
  • Kobo - Apple's main rival when it comes to ereaders, Kobo books can be read on Kobo ereaders, Android or Apple devices, or via your computer (using Windows 10 or masOS app). Kobo's store has a large spread of children's books for both fun and educational purposes.
  • Apple Books - only accessible on Apple devices or Macs, Apple Books offer ebooks from many popular authors, such as Roald Dahl, Jaqueline Wilson and David Walliams. You can also search for authors' collections specifically

If you're looking to download some more educational ebooks for kids, or they were set some holiday reading homework, we found Oxford Owl ebooks to be a fantastic resource for more learning-centred reading - plus, it's completely free.

Sign-up is quick and you'll gain access to hundreds of primary school books suitable for ages 3-11. Most of these are geared towards developing reading skills and learning phonics, and include much-loved titles such as the Biff, Chip and Kipper series. 

This resource is best accessed online to be viewed on a laptop, computer or tablet. See our pick of the best tablets for kids.

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Can I toggle parental controls on an ereader? 

Most ereaders will have some sort of parental control built in. This will usually be accessed via 'Settings'.

  • For Kindle-users, you can set and toggle parental controls such as screen time limitations, bed time settings, educational goals, and Smart Filters which only allows your child to view approved content.
  • For Kobo-users, a 2019 update included the option to add a 4-digit pin for users to access the store, web browser and certain settings on a Kobo ereader.

Limitations of parental controls

It's important to note that, although parental controls are an effective way to restrict what your child can view and access, the best way to monitor their activity is to be mindful of what they're doing.

Keep an eye out for any updates which may alter your parental controls, and change any password pins frequently in case your child has memorised it.

Safety is the most important thing when shopping for children's tech, so see our guide on the best tablets for kids for our verdict on the best models.