With widespread school and library closures due to the new coronavirus outbreak, children’s authors and publishers are going digital to provide kids with ways to read, draw, engage, and support other children who might need a helping hand. PW is tracking some of the most creative efforts on social media and across the web, and will be updating our list regularly.
Updated for the March 31 issue, this list includes bedtime readalouds by Dolly Parton, activities tied to the Smithsonian’s online archives from Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg, PJ Library’s Jewish-themed books and resources, and more.
Beginning April 2 at 7 p.m. ET, country singer Dolly Parton will read children’s books for bedtime by way of the Imagination Library’s YouTube channel. The readings are part of a lead-up to the September release of The Library That Dolly Built, a documentary about the Library, a 25-year-old book program created by Parton, which has donated more than 135 million books since its inception. Among the books Parton will read from are Loren Long’s There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake, Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Parton’s own I Am a Rainbow.
Inviting young readers into the Smithsonian’s online library, Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg have created a free brochure for download called “How to Make a COLLAGASAURUS!” Modeled after AstroNuts, the brochure guides children through the Smithsonian’s archive in search of material that helps them create their own collage.
PJ Library, which specializes in making free Jewish-themed books available to readers, is hosting a story time session three times a day at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. ET on the library’s Facebook pages. In addition, the library’s resource page has free printable games and activities for kids.
Twice a day until April 6, Kids Can authors and illustrators are participating in a reading relay. Each one is taking to Twitter and Instagram to read from their new book or offer a drawing demonstration before passing the baton by tagging and signal-boosting another author or illustrator.
Storey is harnessing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to share live author demos and projects kids can do at home with parents. Activities are drawn from Storey books and include kitchen pantry science experiments, stitching projects, baking demos, designing animal masks, and even ways for kids to help out with chores at home.
Since the beginning of the new coronavirus, there has been a rise in xenophobic and racist attacks on Asian-Americans. Author and PW reviewer Daphne Benedis-Grab has created a guide with trusted sources for news on the issue, intended for use by educators with high school students and advanced middle school students. The site also offers ways that educators and students can respond to anti-Asian attacks.
At Home with AW is a new initiative by Albert Whitman and Company that offers video content and activities for young readers each week. Videos are available on YouTube with additional free resources for activities posted to the publisher’s blog. The debut video focuses on Mindful Me, a book about mindfulness, with a reading and breathing exercise, as well as an art project and ideas for how to create a gratitude chart.
57th Street Books’ Young Readers Advisory Board is inviting young readers to submit a poem from life to firstname.lastname@example.org for National Poetry Month. Every young poet’s entry will appear in a forthcoming volume A Young Person’s Guide to 57th Street Books. The effort is inspired by Suzanne Slade and Cozbi Cabrera’s forthcoming Exquisite, a picture-book biography of Gwendolyn Brooks. Information on How to Write a Poem from Life can be found on the store’s website.
Lerner Publishing Group has created an [easy-to-use website] https://lernerbooks.com/help-at-home for distance learning. The website includes free videos, downloads, and resources for educators, parents, authors, and illustrators that are conveniently separated into categories for grades preK–5 and 6–12.
Rebel Girls At Home makes available for free download the entire journal I Am a Rebel Girl: A Journal to Start Revolutions. The new website also offers free access to activities from the Rebel Girls chapter book series. In addition, the website’s podcasts are available for free on Spotify.
Thirty-six million Americans are unable to read or write at a basic level. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is tracking adult literacy on a literacy gap map while also unveiling tools for parents, caregivers, and adult learners. In response to the coronavirus, the foundation has made an at-home learning toolkit for people working with kids, and for adults working with others or by themselves.
On March 25, DC hosted its first Kids Camp digital programming, with videos on Twitter and Instagram, showing kids how to make a Green Lantern ring with Minh Lê and how to do Superman origami with Gene Luen Yang. New content with activities will be posted regularly with updates on times for new programs sent Mondays and Fridays via the DC Family Newsletter.
The Association of American Publishers has created a resource page about ongoing publisher efforts in support of clients and consumers during the outbreak. The site will be regularly updated with new information about publisher programs, fair use policy alterations, and outreach to schools and libraries.
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has launched #SCBWIConnects, a weekly notice of free online resources created by published members of the organization. The first edition of the newsletter included 350 listings of digital author events and lessons. Issues are compiled and sent every Monday.
Penguin Random House and Parents Magazine have expedited their launch of a national family reading movement program called Read Together, Be Together. Weekly virtual story times will be hosted by authors and actors. The schedule for weekly events is available at Read Together, Be Together As part of the program, PRH has also donated 750,000 books to the literacy non-profit First Book.
Familius has partnered with Vooks to offer a 30-day free trial of Familius read-aloud videos. The publisher is also making teaching guides and other resources available upon request.
School Zone Publishing is offering one month of full access to the company’s Anywhere Teacher App when the code ATHOME is used at sign-up prior to March 31. The app provides access to more than 2,000 activities including books, video games, and worksheets for children ages two to eight.
In honor of Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Book Council has made a 23-page coloring book available in individual pages and as a full download for free. Each page celebrates this year’s theme for Children’s Book Week, which is Read. Dream. Share. Drawings include works by Jessica Love (r.), Sarah Jung, Marcos Navarro, Katie O’Neill, Greg Pizzoli, and others.
For budding young writers, Children’s Book Insider is making its Young Writer’s Blueprint writing course available for free. The step-by-step course is the creation of children’s and young adult author Alice Kuipers. The course is designed for children ages six to 10 but is also appropriate for teens. An adult must sign up for the course, which can be accessed here.
Cinco Puntos Press is sharing bilingual storytelling videos from author Joe Hayes and developing a growing catalog of video resources from other authors published by the press, beginning next week with All Around Us author Xelena Gonzalez, whose video will be a Tai Chi workshop. Current and forthcoming videos are being shared by the press on social media. Cinco Puntos is also offering free teaching guides for early reader books on their website, including activities for kids and reading questions.
Sourcebooks has made access to online storytimes free. In addition, P for Pterodactyl author Raj Haldar created a video for Nick Jr. showing kids how to sneeze into their elbows—a video that is receiving renewed interest. DJ Corchin, author of the forthcoming picture book A Thousand No’s (Sourcebooks, Aug.) is hosting a daily drawing hour at 10:30 a.m. CT on his Facebook page.
Holiday House’s newly launched resources page offers teaching and reading resources for teachers, parents, librarians and educators. The site includes more than 300 reading guides, activities, storytime kits, flashcards, and more.
PRH Canada/Tundra Books is making all guides, event kids, and extras of book content available for free download. The press is also including activity box kits with books in its e-newsletter, including works on finger puppet-making and kazoo-making. In addition, Tundra authors and illustrators are doing virtual storytimes and singalongs. Among the contributors are Narwhal & Jelly author Ben Clanton and Studio author Emily Arrow.
House of Anansi and Groundwood Books is encouraging readers to share with others by reading the same book at the same time. When customers purchase an e-book from the publisher website they can enter the name of a friend in the notes section of their order and that friend will receive a free e-book copy of the same book.
Simon & Schuster is making resources available to educators, booksellers, and librarians via its online hub, The Book Pantry. Users can use the site to conduct livestreams and post readings of S&S children’s titles for students and customers. In addition, Simon & Schuster authors are taking to social media to share readings and drawing lessons. Debbie Ridpath Ohi is teaching art lessons while fellow author Aaron Reynolds has started “The Aaron Reynolds Stay-At-Home Show,” both on YouTube.
HarperCollins Children’s Books is making online reading of all its titles available for free to teachers, librarians, and booksellers through May 31.
Scholastic Books is hosting its first digital book fest on March 20 at 3 p.m. ET, and following it with a second book fest on March 27 at 3 p.m. ET. The Home Base Virtual Book Fest is hosted on the company’s Home Base website and features established and debut authors.
Caryl Hart Children’s Books has created the hashtag #FreeBookResources for readers to be able to quickly and easily locate free children’s book content on social media.
Scholastic has opened up its extensive library of digital curricular resources for free through a new website, Scholastic Learn at Home. In a statement, the publisher said, “Scholastic Learn at Home allows open access to daily learning journeys divided into four grade spans—Pre-K–K, Grades 1–2, Grades 3–5, and Grades 6–9+, covering ELA, STEM, Science, Social Studies, and Social-Emotional Learning.” In addition to general learning materials, the publisher has also created a website for teaching young people about the coronavirus outbreak.
PRH is offering a temporary open license to digital content for educators, librarians, and booksellers. The license allows professionals to access and stream videos of story times, read aloud videos, and live readings. Booksellers can also upload and share videos and related media if it uses a PRH title, and educators can integrate PRH title-related content through the site’s digital classroom platform.
Kennedy Center Education artist-in-residence Mo Willems is leading an afternoon doodling session every day at 1 p.m. ET for the next few weeks, showing readers how to draw his iconic pigeon and piggie, as well as offering a glimpse inside his Massachusetts studio. “Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons,” Willems said in a statement to readers. “We are going to doodle together and explore ways of writing and making.”
Save the Children has partnered with NoKidHungry, Scholastic, and actors Josh Gad, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Garner to share Instagram videos of storybook readings to raise funds for children who have been affected by school closures.
KidLit TV has created a virtual library available to readers on their site. The virtual library includes tutorials, read-alouds, podcasts and other activities, including reading resources. The multimedia content provider is run by educators and parents and works with more than 600,000 schools.
Hey, Kiddo author and illustrator Jarret J. Krosoczka has taken to YouTube to offer a daily drawing lesson for people of all ages. Krosoczka will record a video every weekday at 2 p.m. ET for the coming weeks.
HarperCollins Children’s Books is using social media to share daily story times, learning materials, and activities with readers. Authors, illustrators, and Harper staff will participate, with social media channels available for different age groups. HarperKids is on Instagram for little readers, the YouTube channel Shelf Stuff is for middle grade readers, the Epic Reads Twitter feed is for teens, and HarperStacks—also on Twitter—has resources for educators, parents, and caregivers.
Picture book creator Hervé Tullet’s colorful and interactive Ideal Exhibitions have been shown worldwide in museums and galleries, but with those spaces closing around the world, Tullet is inviting teachers and children to participate in creating a version of his exhibitions from home and encouraging them to share. More information is available at lexpoideale.com/en/ or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Peter Reynolds, author of The Dot and many other works for young readers, was winding down his tour for his new picture book BE YOU! when the new coronavirus outbreak caused him to cancel in-person appearances for some of his last events. Now, Reynolds is taking to Facebook daily to do a daily read-aloud that students and teachers can view.
Author Kate Messner’s site is being regularly updated with publisher-approved author readings, art lessons, and curricular resources. Messner has also received permission for read-alongs for some of her books, including a not-yet-published title from Chronicle.
Stimola Literary Studio will offer more than 50 live streams for children to tune into between March 23 and April 3. A Stimola Live YouTube channel will archive the readings for future viewership. Content is for kids of all ages and will include read-alouds, crafts, journaling, math, yoga, and drawing lessons. Where possible, the livestreams will link to indie bookstores for customers to be able to purchase books by the authors. Among the participating authors and illustrators are Donna Barbra Higuera, James Ponti, Barb Rosenstock, Barney Saltzberg, Mika Song, Matt Tavares, Susan Verde, and Rowboat Watkins. A logo for the effort was donated by author Shanda McCloskey, and McCloskey’s husband developed the website.