Free Online Library of Digital Books For Kids with Reading Challenges

Are you worried about your child’s reading skills? Concerned about his or her lack of progress, lack of reading and studying at home, or that your child will want to drop out? Perhaps your child has a physical disability, and you’d like to know if he or she can read without an aide. If your child is a braille reader, you might want to know where you can find more books in braille without having to lug heavy volumes home.

Parents of children with “print disabilities,” like severe dyslexia, a visual impairment, or a physical disability might want to address such concerns at a parent-teacher conference and discuss accessible books via Bookshare, a completely free online library of digital books for students with print disabilities, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Over 200,000 students currently use books from Bookshare.

A special education teacher or other professional at your child’s school can determine if he or she is eligible and sign him or her up at school, where the teacher can download textbooks as well as recreational reading for your child.

You can also have Bookshare at home, allowing your child to search for books on any topic of interest and download them. You will be able to install the free reading tools on a home computer.

Your child’s teacher can easily start the process. A week or so before you meet with your child’s teacher, send the teacher a message asking him or her to print the individual membership form the Bookshare website,, so you can sign it while you are there.

Next, you will want to get your child set up to read. If you don’t have a computer at home, you have several options. Your child can listen to books with a readily available mp3 player. You do need a computer to download and transfer the books to the device, but maybe you or your child can find and transfer the books to the device at school or the local library.

You can also find, download, and read books on an iPhone or Android phone, or on a tablet like an iPad. Perhaps your school has some of the devices and would lend your child one.

If your child has a visual impairment, will he or she have to lug home heavy volumes of braille? No. The books from Bookshare are digital for playing on a refreshable braille device, a computer, or mobile device.

If your child has a physical disability, the reading software on the computer or mobile device will read the book out loud, or your child may want to read books in mp3 format.

For more information, go to BC

These suggestions were contributed by Bookshare, a federally funded nonprofit.

© Baltimore’s Child Inc. October 2012