List of Public Domain (Free) Books for Kids, by Grade Level

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I’m a frequent user of Project Gutenberg, which distributes free eBook versions of books in the public domain.

Be A Learning Hero, a site I administer (edit: used to administer), has great lists of suggested books for kids to read at each grade level, and guides to aid parents in discussions with kids about those books. In working on getting that launched this summer, I wanted to know if any of our books were available at Project Gutenberg, so we could just link to them (none were, but we added WorldCat links to make it easy to find them at a local library).

Anyway, while working on that, I realized that there is no convenient online list of free books for kids, organized by grade level. There are lists of public domain books for kids, and there are lists of books for kids by grade level, but nobody seems to have combined it all in one place. So I thought: SEO gold!! And then I put this together.

If you know of more good free books for kids, let me know in the comments and I’ll add to the list.

[Links go to the author page on; the book page on; and the source of the grade level recommendation.]

Book Title Author
Grade Level (approx.)
Fairy Tales Grimm, The Brothers K-3
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz Baum, L. Frank K-6
Raggedy Ann Stories Gruelle, Johnny 1
The Light Princess MacDonald, George 1-2
The Happy Prince and Other Tales Wilde, Oscar 1-4
The Secret Garden Burnett, Frances Hodgson 2
Heidi Spyri, Johanna 2-6
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Potter, Beatrix 3
The Arabian Nights: Their Best-known Tales Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith 3-5
The Swiss Family Robinson Wyss, Johann David 3-8
My Father’s Dragon Gannett, Ruth Stiles 4
The Velveteen Rabbit Williams, Margery 4
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Baum, L. Frank 5
The Adventures of Buster Bear Burgess, Thornton W. 5
The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel Burgess, Thornton W. 5
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll, Lewis 5
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Lofting, Hugh 5
White Fang
London, Jack
Anne of Green Gables Montgomery, Lucy Maud 5
The Enchanted Castle Nesbit, E. 5
The Railway Children Nesbit, E. 5
Adventures of Tom Sawyer Twain, Mark 5
Jack and Jill Alcott, Louisa May 6
Peter Pan Barrie, J.M. 6
Jungle Book Kipling, Rudyard 6
Black Beauty Sewell, Anna 6
Little Women Alcott, Louisa May 7
Call of the Wild London, Jack 7
The Princess and the Goblin MacDonald, George 7
Treasure Island Stevenson, Robert Louis 7
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith 8
The Wind in the Willows Grahame, Kenneth 8
Robinson Crusoe Defoe, Daniel 9

For other things to do with kids, check out this great blog with activities for kids (and families) that help build early leadership skills. It’s written by my friend Erika Hovland Bahij, an award-winning entrepreneur who is a creator of leadership programs for children.

39 thoughts on “List of Public Domain (Free) Books for Kids, by Grade Level

  1. Erin

    What a great resourse! May I read any of these out loud on my Reading Teacher FB site? I want to read Aloud classics for children who may not otherwise read them. Thank you!

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      These are public domain works. You can read them aloud, satirize them, reprint them and claim them as your own, or print them out and chop them into thousands of tiny bits to make a children’s literature collage. Go for it!

      1. Tara

        Can anyone suggest a good one that doesn’t have too much content that is now considered politically incorrect.

        1. christina

          When I was a kid I loved the Secret Garden and Heidi. I don’t think they have controversial issues in them except that they both are about orphans – and I know some people are wary of reading kids stories that are about the death of a parent. Alice in Wonderland is also great for kids who like silly stories.

        2. Jenny


          You’ll only wanna keep an eye out, in SECRET GARDEN, for the way it talks about people of South Asian descent. And keep an eye out for the fact that the parents are wiped out by a mysterious and fast-moving illness (yellow fever)…possibly a tough/scary thing for some kids, these days.

      2. chanthy


        Thank you so much for sharing this!
        I wonder if these books are actually still hold copyright to them? My 7 years old love books and she is very interested to read children books aloud and share them on youtube. I am just wondering if you know there is copyrighted on these books still?



        1. Matt Morgan Post author

          They are public domain works, in the USA and in many other countries. I encourage you to look up what that means in your jurisdiction. Thanks!

  2. Cathy Frazier

    Hi, I discovered Project Gutenberg looking for The Boxcar Children (they show as Box-car) a good 2/3 book which my students always love even though it is so old fashioned. Thank you for this great resource, especially now in the time of sheltering in place.

    1. Cathy Frazier

      Oops, read the beginning of the download of The Boxcar Children and the book has been significantly revised since this version. Can’t share it with my students. Sorry.

  3. Cathy Frazier

    Oops, read the beginning of the download of The Boxcar Children and the book has been significantly revised since this version. Can’t share it with my students. Sorry.

    1. Cathy Frazier

      I loved The Secret Garden too, however, since the parents die of a cholera epidemic it could probably be a little scary for children right now. Peter Rabbit is always fun for younger children and this has all the beautiful illustrations.

      1. Matt Morgan Post author

        Hey, I’m just thrilled that people are finding this ancient post of mine (which is the one I worked hardest on!) useful. Thanks for coming & thanks for all the helpful thoughts!

        1. Sarah Kurvinen


          Are any of the modern stories for younger kids in the public domain?
          This is a very useful list thanks

          1. Matt Morgan Post author

            You’re welcome!

            There are lots of newer books that are out of copyright, but that’s a pretty new development so it may be hard to find digitized copies of them. See


            for more information on work New York Public Library has done to get people access to newer books, and work some other orgs are doing to make them available.

  4. Amanda

    Hello Matt, I want to thank you for your generous share. This is a fantastic resource. I appreciate you and what you do.

  5. Hala

    Hi Matt,

    I would like to ask you please can I use any of the listed stories and make some new graphic and animation on it and upload it on my YouTube Channel, with out any legal issue,
    is there any copy rights for re using them.

    Please advise.

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      They are public domain (at least, in the USA, and in many other places). I encourage you to look that up and understand what it means so I can avoid giving you legal advice. Or look further back in the comments here to a time I was less concerned about that and answered a similar question. Thanks!

  6. Amanda Uluhan

    Thanks for the post. I’m researching children’s books authors of color who are in the public domain. Any ideas?

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      It’s hard. I find it frustrating that all the various sites where you can get public domain books only make it easy to search by author and title. There’s no subject or other categorization. So if you already know what you’re looking for, you can see if it’s available, but there’s no easy way to browse what’s available.

      I would watch the New York Public Library as they continue to find more books with lapsed copyright, and see what they do.

  7. Jackie Morales

    I love this list. Have you considered updating it to include new works entering the public domain? For example: Bambi, a Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne, A Gallery of Children by A.A. Milne, & The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      Thanks for the tip! I’d be happy to add anything, but it’s a lot of work. I need a link to a downloadable edition, plus reliable/authoritative assessments of reading level. If you (or anyone) can help with any of those it will speed me up.

    2. Matt Morgan Post author

      Jackie, I’m sorry I never replied to your message, somehow I missed it. Thanks! I’m happy to add books to the list but I need an online source for them (i.e. a link), some confirmation that they are public domain, and an authoritative source for the reading level. I just checked and I can get all that for Gatsby, so I’ll add it to the list. And I see that I can get them for Winnie-the-Pooh. But e.g. I don’t see When We Were Very Young at Gutenberg … do you know of a source for it somewhere?

  8. Stephanie R

    This is just fabulous! Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve been spiraling down the internet of never ending lists looking for public domain books and this helps so much!

  9. Sathya sridhar

    Can I able to upload and Read aloud stories from any Public Domain Books for kids in my YouTube Channel?or if I want to Read aloud books which are not Public Domain..what’s the procedure?

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      Where the book is public domain, you can do anything you want with it. Literally anything. Just understand that different countries sometimes have different rules for what’s public domain.

      If the book is not public domain you will want to seek permission from the publisher.

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      I have no insight into South African copyright law. In the US you can do literally anything you want with these books, except maybe print one and throw it at someone. That might be illegal, perhaps depending on how hard you threw it. In all seriousness, “Public Domain” means that the books belong to each of us as much as to any of us. See for more info.

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      It may be pretty clear from my previous responses that I’m not interested in giving legal advice. That said–Australia, what’s that, a pretty modern country? Liberal democracy? Open society?

      Click on the links. See if anyone arrests you for reading. I think you’ll be fine.

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      That’s awesome, I had no idea there were any Harry Harrison books in the public domain. And congrats, you’re my first reader submission. I had thought I would only put up books that had published reading levels established by well-known authorities. E.g. the NYPL (note the links pointing people to the source of the reading level claim). But I’ll have to think about it. Or are you aware of a place I can link to, so my readers know the source of the reading level info?


  10. David Manvell

    Are there any picture books that are in the public domain? So far I have not found any. Most sites say their books list are free to download but that is not public domain.

    1. Matt Morgan Post author

      As a general rule, anything published before 1923 is public domain in the US, or anything published by an author who died at least 70 years ago. So if you can’t find public domain picture books, it’s probably because

      a) maybe there weren’t many back then
      b) Gutenberg and the other providers haven’t scanned/corrected them.

      Gutenberg ( has ways to help get more PD books online (see “How to Help” on their home page).


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