For all of the free literature and essays available online, a surprisingly small amount is geared toward children. Even less is aimed at children who speak foreign languages.

The International Children’s Digital Library offers children ages 3-13 free access to the best available children’s literature in more than 40 languages. Librarians find and digitize books published around the world and present them in their original languages.

The site acts as a meta learning tool. It is designed to be easy for children to use by themselves—by simply clicking “Read Books,” a list of favorite titles pops up—but kids can learn how to search too, by their own age, types of characters, genre, book length, language and geographical region.

The homepage features recommended and popular titles, like Tyrone the Horrible, written in Spanish. Where translation rights exist, the library works with volunteer translators to provide additional language versions.

The library is a project of the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab and there is a research component to the project. Working with children in New Zealand, Honduras, Germany, and the United States, researchers are looking at how children perceive other cultures outside their own.

The library’s broader mission is to make it possible for children all over the world to learn to use a library system and read a range of quality literature. The interface aims as much at international children as it does immigrant children in American cities and rural areas.

Books are available for free and without an account. An account, however, allows a child to create their own bookshelf of favorites that can be shared with other users. A guide for teachers includes a training manual and tips for how to use the library to teach creative writing, library search skills and foreign languages.

You will find the International Children’s Digital Library in our collection 200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More.

More digitized children’s books can be found at the Library of Congress.

Adults, don’t miss our other collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

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The Classic 1956 Oscar-Winning Children’s Film, The Red Balloon

Kate Rix writes about education and digital media. Follow her on Twitter.

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  • Anna says:

    Great idea – but it means that the kid needs an ebook reader… That is at least $ 99 so why not invest this money in printed books which can be given to other children when finisehd by the first reader?

  • Adriana Cabrera Ochoa says:

    It’s grate that this kind of proyects are develop

  • Hana says:

    Do you have any books for ages 3-8?

  • Qwertyie says:

    Some children require the use of ereaders due to difficulties with visual convergence and other ocular motor dysfunctions. I thank you on behalf of these kids who otherwise would find reading independently too tiring

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