We’ve been collecting links to online resources that offer free eBooks, audio books, educational resources, and activities for keeping kids entertained, along with trustworthy news sources during the crisis. While libraries and schools are closed, many organizations have stepped in to fill the void by giving away what they normally charge for. In fact, there are so many, we hardly knew where to start!
Here are a few of our favorites. Check back often, we’ll be adding new items!
eBooks and Audio Books for Every Age
The Story Connection is a 24-hour call-in storyline. Stories include Aesop’s Fables, classic folktales, and holiday stories. Anyone, young or old, can call in to listen at 717-295-BOOK (2665). You’ll be prompted to choose a month to hear story options for that month; or see the full list of available stories here.
MidAmerica is giving students free access to all of their e-Books and databases through June, 2020
Audible Stories is free while schools are closed. No logins or “free trials.” Littlest readers, elementary, tweens, teens, and classics. https://stories.audible.com/discovery
Have you tried TumbleBooks yet? TumbleBooks are fun, animated, talking picture books. If your kids have never tried them, now is the time! Even better, TumbleBooks has given libraries free additional resources through August 31st. including TumbleMath, Teen BookCloud, Romance BookCloud, with and Audio BookCloud. Get all of these great resources for free at: online.lancasterlibraries.org ! Just enter your library card number to get instant access. Learn more about TumbleBooks.
TumbleMath has animated math stories in TumbleBook format which combines animation, narration, and sound to create a compelling story book for students of all ages. Wondering what that means? Try it and see!
Teen BookCloud offers popular Graphic Novels and e-books with full audio narration for middle and high school ages.
Audio BookCloud provides unlimited access to over 1200 audio books for all ages.
For adults, Romance BookCloud has thousands of Romance eBooks!
From April 30 through July 29, teens and other audiobook-lovers can download 2 free audiobooks per week, courtesy of SYNC by Audiofile. Visit www.audiobooksync.com to get started!
The Library has a schedule of virtual events this month, including Virtual Bedtime Stories, May Lego Challenge, “No-Stress with Miss Jess” daily activity videos, Wildlife Wednesdays from Refreshing Mountain, and Friday Frolic with Hank. See the full schedule here, download the May Lego Challenge PDF here, and post your creations on the Lego event page!
Free STEM at Home activities from Pitsco Education includes simple ideas for making Catapults, Parachutes, Pop-Up Books, a Rube-Goldberg Machine, and Sail Cars. You can also read free issues of SySTEM Alert! for older students.
Bring Hogwarts to You with Harry Potter at Home. There’s quizzes, puzzles, activities, and a bit of light reading. Check out the guide to drawing a Niffler!
Sesame Street has created a special page on their website called Caring for Each Other to “support families throughout the COVID-19 health crisis with a broad variety of free resources.” There are wonderful videos, ebooks, on-line & offline games, and activities all shared by the beloved puppets on how to stay healthy during this “scary” time.
Common Sense Media put together this giant list of free online kids’ activities, including virtual storytimes, drawing lessons, music classes & performances, educational activities, art/film & music lessons, virtual tours of museums and parks, and so much more! Rather than recreate their list, we’ll send you there. Just one note, scheduled times are Pacific time. Add three hours.
Nomad Press has short, fun, & free science eBooks that you can download and print at home, like Science is Everywhere and Science in Your Kitchen. They’re only a few pages long but chock full of great activities you can do at home with very little experience and supplies you already have on hand. There are also eBooks for Tackling Tough Topics, Social Justice for Kids, and more! Nomad Press printable eBooks
At-home science and activities from Lancaster Science Factory! Lancaster Science Factory launched a new set of resources to keep kids engaged in hands-on STEM education and learning through active play. http://www.LancasterScienceFactory.org/at-home-resources
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi (along with some very famous guests) is reading James and the Giant Peach in full, across 10 episodes. Also settle down with a story, take a “quicksy” quiz, solve a puzzle, make a craft, or draw your favorite characters at The Official Roald Dahl Website.
You can watch animated Shel Silverstein poems at ShelSilverstein.com
Balanced News & Media Literacy
Allsides.com – Together, let’s pop all of those media bubbles. Allsides.com provides balanced news coverage, media bias ratings, and civil dialogue opportunities. This site is a great way to look at the same news story as it has been reported in left-leaning, right-leaning, and center news sources.
FEMA.gov – FEMA has posted a coronavirus rumor control page, to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts.
Lancaster Libraries put together a COVID-19 Resource Page
See Governor Wolf’s guidelines for the stay-at-home order.
Helping Kids Cope
Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19 from National Assoc. of School Psychologists
If you’re looking for ways to explain the current situation to kids, Coronavirus: A Book for Children can help. It answers questions like: How do you catch coronavirus and what happens if you have it? Why are people so worried about it? Is there a cure? Why do we have to stay home? What can I do to help? And, what happens next? Free for everyone, from Candlewick Press: https://stayhome.candlewick.com/
Dave the Dog is Worried About Coronavirus: A Nurse Dotty Book: This free download book was written by a nurse. It aims to open up the conversation about coronavirus and some of the things kids might be hearing about it and provide truthful information in a reassuring and child friendly manner. Miss Jess says, “Guess what kind of owl is Nurse Dotty.”
My Hero is You, a story developed for and by children around the world, offers a way for children and parents to together think about the questions the pandemic raises. Designed to be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children, the story was shaped by more than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world who took the time to share how they are coping with the impact of COVID-19.
Dr Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) explains coronavirus in a series of videos at https://www.nanogirllive.co.nz/coronavirus-soap-experiment
Here are even more resources and videos from kidshealth.org (New Zealand). https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/resources-help-explain-coronavirus-covid-19-children
102-page guided ‘first-aid’ workbook, ‘My Pandemic Story,’ for children and teenagers, to encourage mental health, creative expression, learning, and coping. The book includes guidance for families and teachers. The author, Gilbert Kliman, M.D., is Director of The Children’s Psychological Health Center in San Francisco, California.