If you want to find new stories to read to your kids, here are some great websites that have huge collections of stories from many authors and for children of all age groups.
I have to admit that I’m sort of biased against any online site that puts the word “free” right into its URL. My cynicism is probably the result of reading too many marketing blogs’ advice to never use the f-word when offering something that you aren’t asking people to pay for.
Despite it’s name, the stories on FreeChildrensStories.com are wonderful and, yes, full of value. All the creations of author-illustrator Daniel Errico, who shares my view that stories are an essential ingredient in the healthy development of kids. He goes a step farther and makes this point in rhyme, in fact.
He posts his stories online for free so that families who don’t have access to books can read them online. Some of the stories are shared as videos with the author reading them aloud. Some of my favorites are: Who Let You In My Book? and Don’t Judge a Book, both of which play with the format of books themselves.
Storyjumper offers a free tool for creating an online book that you can share. They also offer one-off book printing. The book reading format is quite nice, with a frame and page turning effect that mimics the experience of a printed book. (Note to self: going to try this out and see how well the embedding version works for my own stories here on Epic Kids. Once I have more pictures to put into them, of course.)
But the part of their site that I am going to point you at right now is where people have shared the stories that they created using Storyjumper.
As might be expected with user-generated content, this is a little like open mic night at your local comedy club. Everything needs a little more polish, but there are some real gems hidden in the pile.
Here are some cute ones that you’ll find there:
Megasaurus, an adventure with a great problem-solving hero.
Puggy Visits the Moon, featuring a dog who takes an unexpected trip to the moon.
Play Time at the Zoo, which is a gentle go-asleep type of story for very young children.
Storyberries boasts of receiving more than a million views per month on their site, which is not surprising given their treasure-trove of top-notch stories and illustrations they offer on their site. They are funded through donations, so if you appreciate the resource they offer consider giving here. In addition to stories, they also have a well-stocked section with resources for parents and a section brimming with book reviews. So if you are on the hunt for just the right books to share with your kids, this is a great place to start.
Here are just a tiny sample of some of the stories I found that I liked immediately:
The Lost Laugh, a very cute book about a hyena.
The Dragon’s Eggs, a longer story that draws you in quite thoroughly.
Tig’s World, giving alternative perspectives for why the world is round.
These are longer stories than the little ditties usually read to young children, but I find that my son of 4 has an insatiable appetite for narrative that these almost manage to satisfy. There are no pictures, and little formatting. But in some ways that is good because then the listener is forced to form the pictures in their mind.
I found two of my favorites from my childhood there:
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the classic tale about a ferocious mongoose, by Rudyard Kipling. Somehow this tale is more frightening now that I’m an adult and understand how dangerous a poisonous snake is.
Thumbelina, by Hans Christian Anderson. This was one of the handful of stories I used to tell my sister when we shared a room as little girls. I’m not sure I ever heard the actual plot when I was a child, because there is a lot there I have no memory of, and nothing about creating a little house out of a Kleenex box, which always was a centerpiece of my version.
There are more sites out there – I’m on a bit of a mission to uncover all that I can. When I do I’ll share them here. If you have any that you know of please share them in the comments!