Monthly mail • August 2021

Welcome to The Kidlit Collective – a celebration of children’s books and more

On The House

In August's edition, we check out how to get FREE children's books.

 Being able to buy reading material for our children is something many of us take for granted, but in low-income families, books can be a luxury not always afforded.

Here, we share some ideas for free children’s resources. And who doesn’t like free?


The truly old-school way of getting free books, and a great way, may we add, is hitting your local library. A library allows children to browse and giving them this autonomy, could spark an interest in reading, too.
Libraries also host lots of free, fun events and book readings for little ones.

Alongside their free stories, Monkey Pen sells personalized books, with each sale and every penny of profit, helping fund free content.
For free PDF story downloads, click here.


Given Amazon’s monopoly on books – and well,
EVERYTHING, it seems only right that they should throwtheir hat into the ring and offer some free stuff for childrentoo. And they do so with Audible.
Audible lets children instantly stream stories across eight different languages via desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet. And in terms of actual visual reading, Amazon itself also offers plenty of free digital books for download.

Check them out here.

Barnes and Noble

Another of the big boys, Barnes and Noble offer free children’s NOOK books.

Now, a ‘NOOK’ is a reading device similar to Kindle, but you don’t need one to download the books and read them. You will, however, need to create an account and complete billing information in order to get your free downloads.
Interested? Take a look here.


Taking libraries into the digital age (and through a pandemic), hoopla is a media service that partners with libraries across the United States and Canada to provide online and mobile access to eBooks, audiobooks, comics, music, movies, and TV.
A valid library card together with Hoopla, enables you to borrow, instantly stream, and download content via their mobile app or by visiting Pretty cool, no?

Monkey Pen

With the aim of creating 10,000 free children’s books,Monkey Pen was a concept drummed up by a groupof friends who wanted to change the world, one(x10,000) free children’s story at a time.
Striving to ‘transform the children of today into kindand conscious global citizens of tomorrow’, MonkeyPen seeks to instil values and skills that traditionalschools don’t tend to teach, such as moneymanagement, investment in health, self-mastery, andrelationship building.

Khan Academy Kids

An entirely free resource that promotes learning (we have it on our iPad at home), Khan Academy Kids is aimed at two to eight-year-olds.
In addition to fun games, puzzles, songs, and infographics, they are also books within the app.
Khan Academy, meanwhile, offers online academic support to older students that is split up according to grade/age and subject. There are even courses for college kids.
As a non-profit, the organization’s ethos is to provide free, world-class education for ‘anyone, anywhere.

Book exchange/swap

Okay, so this requires books, to begin with, but why not trade your old children’s books with some other families, friends, neighbours etc. Or for something less permanent, organise a swap for a week or two, allowing kids to get their hands on ‘new books’ with no added expense.

Charity/thrift shop

My parents would buy an endless amount of books from charity shops, and they still do. It’s a great way to get books for less while also supporting local charities. And by repurposing old books, you’ll be helping the environment, too


  Here’s our little black book of organisations that aspire to
    make reading accessible for children in all walks of life.

Reaching millions of children across the UK (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) with books, resources, and support, BookTrust is the UK’s largest reading charity.
The organization has several programs and campaigns, beginning with Bookstart (birth to five years), – the world’s first national book-gifting scheme

The Scottish Book Trust has a similar sentiment. Championing reading and writing in a bid to help change lives, the national charity believes that a love of reading not only inspires creativity but also improves employment opportunities, mental health, and wellbeing; while also helping break the poverty cycle. Yes, reading really is that important.

Born out of the realization that many children in Houston, don’t have books in their homes (automatically putting them at a serious disadvantage in school), Amy Barnes and Sandra Ahlhornbegan Books Between Kids in 2012 to help address this issue.
Over the course of nine years, the organization has grown from impacting a few hundred children, to one that has distributed more than 1.7 million books to over 500,000 children in 44 zip codes throughout Greater Houston.

Way to go, ladies!


Each month, we share some extremely
‘likeable’ online illustrative work that
caught our scrolling eye…

ida duck illustration

Animal-loving, Aussie-based,
British illustrator and pattern
designer, Caroline McPherson, sits
down with The Kidlit Collective to
offer an insight into the very
beautiful and dreamy world of ida
duck illustration.

From hedgehogs to sea turtles, to koalas and polar bears, Caroline McPherson has had the privilege of working with an extraordinary variety of patients over the course of two decades, thanks to a career in veterinary nursing, coupled with a fascination for wildlife.
“On arriving in Australia, I decided very quickly that I would like to become involved in the efforts to protect the region’s native wildlife and registered as a wildlife rehabilitator, specializing in macropods (kangaroos and wallabies). I have dedicated many years to hand-raising young orphaned joeys,” Caroline tells us.

“Unsurprisingly, macropods feature a lot in my work, alongside many other native animal species. I just love drawing Australian animals, I can’t help it!
“They’re such an interesting and unique subject, plus they are super cute! I also love to draw birds. There is so much variety and inspiration in the bird world. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling on any given day, I can almost always find a bird I would like to draw.

“For Caroline, the natural world is her main source of inspiration.

“The many years of close animal observation has refined a compelling sense of animal personality and character,” she
elaborates. “When I see an animal I don’t just see a cat or a dog, a whale or a pademelon, I see a personality and I like to imagine what they are thinking, what’s going on in their day?”

Explaining her thought process, Caroline says, “I like to illustrate scenes that capture the animal at the moment. How did they find themselves in that bit of rainforest, investigating that leaf or that bug? Where’s home? What’s for tea? That kind of thing.”

In addition to Australian wildlife, the ida duck illustration creator is also charmed by snow and rain, favouring the cooler seasons of autumn and winter. “If there’s a hint of festive in there too, then all the better!”When it comes to colour, Caroline seeks to create an atmospheric mood using a mix of dark tones and focal light elements.

“There’s just something inherently magical about a glowing light on an otherwise dark canvas,” she explains. “I also love the texture. I’m a digital artist but like many of my favourite illustrators, I like to use texture in a way that doesn’t ‘look’ like digital art. I’ve found multiple texture layers to be my friend in creating the soft and whimsical style I am drawn to.

“The talented designer concludes, “I think I was always
destined to be a children’s-style illustrator and I’m happy with that. In a world where at times it can often seem like there is little magic, it’s good to create a bit of my own on the canvas.”Caroline, we couldn’t agree more.

I think I was always destined to be a
children’s-style illustrator and I’m
happy with that. In a world, where at
times, it can often seem like there is
little magic, it’s good to create a bit of
my own on the canvas.

Coming soon


Do you have a prospective Einstein, Newton, Darwin or
Tesla living under your roof? Well, why not feed their
wondrous mind with these two science-based releases.
With super attractive artwork and information presented in an easily digestible format, we are really rather taken by this contemporary encyclopedia. Aimed at 10-15 year-olds, the daughter of a physicist, former teacher, and professional artist, Lisa Congdon, offers kid-friendly commentary to all 118 known elements.

Meanwhile, for a more hands-on approach, Good Housekeeping releases Amazing Science this month (August 24).
Packed with experiments, children (8-12 years) are guided on how to build a solar oven and cook s’mores, create an active rain cloud in a jar, use static electricity created with a balloon to power a light bulb, grow their own vegetables from scraps, and investigate the forces that make an object sink or float. Perfect for budding scientists






A . A M I L N E / W I N N I E T H E P O O