Educational Resources – Reading and other book-related activities
What’s on this list?
- Free ebook & audiobook collections
- Lots of ideas for book-related activities you and your kids can do at home (reading & writing)
- Offline resources are flagged
The All-Important Disclaimer: I have not personally vetted all of these resources. There just isn’t enough time right now to do that. So if something looks interesting to you, be sure to check it out first to make sure it will work for you and your child.
Free ebook and audiobook collections
JLG@Home from the Junior Library Guild
The Junior Library Guild is offering free access to their JLG Digital Platform to students and teachers affected by their community’s school closures and social distancing rules. The platform includes curated collections of ebooks and audiobooks for elementary, middle school, and high school readers. (Thanks for the tip, Amy R.!)
- Learn more about JLG@Home.
New York City Public Library
Readers in New York City can download any of the New York City Public Library’s 300,000 ebooks for free using the SimplyE app.
Not in New York City but want to access free ebooks and audiobooks anyway?
Many public libraries offer access to their collections through smartphone applications like Libby and Overdrive. In most cases, you will need a library card to access the collection. Check your local library’s website to see what is available in your area.
PenguinClassroom continues a wide range of discussion guides, activities, state-by-state recommended reading lists, virtual author/book talks, and more to engage readers of all school ages.
Teachers, Librarians, and Booksellers — Penguin recently announced that they are temporarily granting you permission to use their titles in your virtual classrooms, to create a virtual story-time or read-along experiences for your students affected by the school closures. They do ask that you notify them via email when you use one of their titles.
- Explore the resources available to you through PenguinClassroom
- Read Penguin’s announcement and review the reporting requirements
Kate Messner’s Online Resource Library
Kate Messner, author of more than three dozen kids’ books is compiling/has compiled an online library of resources for kids, families, teachers, and librarians to help support learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. Resources include a kid-friendly comic explaining why things have been closing unexpectedly this spring, first chapter and picture book read-alouds from various authors, and lessons in drawing and writing.
Take an Online Writing Workshop from Lindsay Currie
Lindsay Currie, author of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, has posted a free online writing workshop for 3rd – 7th graders interested in writing their own spooky stories.
- Visit Lindsay Currie’s Spooky 101 Toolbox
Write a First-hand Historical Account of the Pandemic
(Instructions are online, but activities can be done offline.)
Beth Vrabel, author of The Newspaper Club, has suggestions for encouraging your child to document their experiences during the pandemic as if they were a journalist.
Middle School Reading Guides by Beth Vrabel
(Instructions are online, but activities can be done offline.)
In case you are looking for a more traditional middle school reading guide, Beth Vrabel has also posted a series of study guides for parents and educators to use in conjunction with her middle grade books, including The Newspaper Club and Pack of Dorks.
- Review Beth Vrabel’s guides
Have your kids make a book trailer
If you want to feel better about letting your kids read whatever they want during this time, you can have them pick a book and create a book trailer for it.
Mo Willems’ Lunch Doodles
Mo Willems invites your child to join him at 1 p.m. ET every day to draw, doodle, and explore new ways of telling stories. (4/15 Update: Mo Willems is no longer recording new Lunch Doodles episodes. However past episodes are still archived and available through the Kennedy Center website.)
A website filled with activities, games, and videos based on the Dr. Seuss picture books.
- Visit Seussville
The Story Pirates podcast has professional actors perform stories written by kids. They are taking submissions, so if your child is inspired by what they hear, they can submit a few stories of their own.
- Check out the Story Pirates podcast
Susan Tan’s curated collection of reading-related activities
Children’s book author Susan Tan is busily compiling her own collection of learning activities for kids. Her list includes children’s book authors reading their own books, creative writing exercises for young writers, and more.
- Check out Susan Tan’s ever-expanding list
A library of videos of various actors reading picture books for kids.
- Visit Storyline Online
Storytime with First Lady Donna Edwards
Donna Edwards, the First Lady of the state of Louisiana, is hosting live read-alongs on her Facebook page on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. Central Time. So far, she appears to be archiving the readings on her Facebook page for folks who missed the live feed.
Kate Messner’s Ranger In Time Read-along
Kate Messner is busily working her way through an online read of her Ranger In Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail book.
Audible.com’s free streaming collection of stories for kids
Audible has made a ton of children’s stories available for free streaming through its website. The collection includes old favorites like Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh, as well as newer tales from Ransom Riggs and Obert Skye. (Multiple languages are available.)
- Browse the audiobook collection here
Read-along with LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton is reading stories live on his Twitter feed (@levarburton). Schedule:
- Monday Mornings at 9:00 a.m. PST – Children’s Stories
- Wednesday Afternoons at 12:00 p.m. PST – Young Adult (YA)
- Friday Evenings at 6:00 p.m. PST – Adults
- Check it out.
Goodnight with Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton has launched her own “Goodnight with Dolly” storytime channel.
- See her read from “Coat of Many Colors” here.
Find a resource I’ve missed?
I’ll add more resources as I find them, but this list will be much better with your input too. You’re inevitably going to come across things I’d miss. If you do, please let me know about them, either by dropping a comment below or finding me on Twitter (@shalahowell).
Also, although I hope this won’t happen, I could easily add something to this list that either doesn’t exist anymore or really shouldn’t be on here. If you see something like that, please let me know.
Thank you and good luck!
What are you thinking?