Update January 2021
As the new term starts teachers, support staff and parents have been faced with a last minute turn around regarding the opening of schools and once again on-line learning is to be adopted for the majority of the children across England.
When the first lockdown took place in March 2020 I compiled a list of online resources linked to children’s books and reading for pleasure in the hope that it would be helpful to teachers, school librarians and parents. As new resources were produced I updated the lists and over the following weeks these various resources were shared many times. They are going to be needed again. I have spent some time checking and updating links and have also added some more. The presentation has been adjusted slightly so that they are organised into a more readily searchable structure. I hope they are useful to you and help ease the stress of the situation a little.
In March 2020 I wrote this and it still applies. Thank you to all the generous people who rose to the challenge then and are doing so again,
Today all over the country teachers and parents are preparing for schools to be closed for an indefinite period. Teachers are faced with creating ways that children can access education online and parents are wondering how they can home educate or occupy their children. Thankfully organisations, charities, authors, illustrators, school librarians and teachers have been sharing resources for several days. This is extremely generous but at times the vast quantity available can feel bewildering. Therefore I have selected some book related resources that I think primary school children will enjoy and parents will find useful. I hope to update these on a regular basis without making the list too long and overwhelming.
Organisations, Charities and Literacy Websites
Words for Life – a brilliant place for parents to start, this is a comprehensive web portal for parents created by The Literacy Trust. Split up by age group, you will find ideas and guidance for simple activities that will engage children at home, while also benefiting their reading, writing and language development. You’ll be able to access free reading and writing resources, audiobooks, videos, competitions and reading challenges. Their new Virtual School Library site also offers author videos, free books, exclusive videos and their top three recommended reads.
School Library Association Support for Out of School Learning – this fabulous resource has just been updated and is full of helpful links for school librarians and teachers and parents too. They are divided into helpful categories and include links to resources, ideas and advice. The most comprehensive selection I have found.
Love My Books – another free website providing resources, activity ideas and book suggestions for children aged 0-11. Pages of great ideas for parents and children sharing books together.
World Book Day – Browse their booklists for children and young people at all ages and stages – for ideas and inspiration. There are stacks of links to book related resources and videos too. They have just added the Book Ideas Hub to the website which looks fabulous.
Authorfy – this is a great website. Full of free resources, activity packs, writing prompts, author videos and brilliant book recommendations this is a good way to entertain and educate children as it is so engaging.
The British Library Discovering Children’s Books – this new website has a wide range of information and resources available from how to draw a Gruffalo to how to make a mini book. Since last year new activities have been added and this a great website to browse for ideas and articles.
The Reading Realm– there are now some free learning packs available on this website based on animals and nature, fairy tales and creative writing prompts. The creators of this website are continually updating and adding to this helpful site so it is well worth revisiting to keep up with updates.
Audible Stories – Audible have launched a free service that offers educational and entertaining audiobook content for kids, teens, and families.
Book Trust Stories and Games – lots of lovely interactive books to read online or watch with signing plus stacks of games and activities to share. They have now added a Home Time page with links to lots of fabulous activities. This is definitely worth a look.
Hay Festival Programme for Schools Free Events Online – Watch authors from Hay Festival Programme for Schools filmed over the last 3 years. There are 55 fun filled and inspiring events to choose from including Ade Adepitan, Gemma Cairney, Emma Carroll, Eoin Colfer, Julian Clary, Abi Elphinstone and Andy Stanton.
#LibrariesFromHome brought to you by Libraries Connected – amongst the range of digital resources available are the excellent online rhyme times, story times and lego clubs that keep children engaged and support early literacy and creative thinking.
Open University: Supporting Reading at Home – this website, such a fabulous resource for educators, now has new section on the site in response to the pandemic and it is updated regularly. Highlights include ‘Book Chat: Reading with your child’ and a reading treasure hunt.
Toppsta Books with linked activities – this popular website offers book recommendations, reviews and much more. The link above takes you to a selection of books with activities suitable for a wide age group.
Authors, Illustrators and Publishers
Free Resources from Barrington Stoke – From reading guides to colouring in sheets, their Young Editors Scheme to author videos, there’s something for every age of reader linked to some of this publisher’s wonderful books.
Rob Biddulph Draw Along Videos – these are great. Each Tuesday and Thursday at 10am during the March lockdown Rob Biddulph posted a video of him drawing a character for children to copy. These are stored on his website for you to watch at any time. He is also doing new live videos each Saturday at 10am.
Peter Bunzl Cogheart and Moonlocket School Resources– these include some great creative projects such as design your own mechanical robot and making a flip book animation.
Emma Carroll Online Writing Workshops – this is so tempting as I love Emma’s books. Emma is in the early stage of writing a new book and she is going to share the early stages of her writing journey, twice a week until half term in February. 2021 You can join in by writing your own story. It starts on 12th January and you can find out how to join in via the link.
Chicken House Books Education Hub – Here you’ll find educational resources that work alongside this publisher’s most popular books books. Although designed for use in schools the videos and PDF downloads etc. could be enjoyed at home too.
14 Stories in 14 days from Egmont Publishers – a website, inspired by the recommended 14 days of self-isolation, offering 14 days of free content to provide entertainment and educational support for parents, carers and children across the UK.
Our Corona Diary – founded by Kathryn Evans this initiative hopes to document the experience through the eyes of young diarists and inspire a creative response to the crisis. Suitable for all ages from early years to young adult there are stacks of creative ideas plus information for parents, teachers and carers.
Elise Gravel Free Comic– Illustrator Elise Gravel has created a free to download comic which explains the Covid19 situation to children.
Draw with Jim Field – learn to draw alongside illustrator Jim Field with these great videos of him drawing Oi Frog and more on his website.
Caryl Hart Author Events Online – This is an excellent resource. Authors and illustrators are creating loads of resources that children, teachers and families can access from home. These include videos, live broadcasts on Instagram and Facebook, and printables and these have been collated and shared on this site by author Caryl Hart.
The Bookwanderers Club – a live book club hosted by children’s author Anna James last year every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2pm while schools are closed due to COVID-19 and the videos of these interviews are still available to watch. A great selection of authors in these enjoyable interviews. It feels like eavesdropping on friends!
Stay at Home Story Time with Oliver Jeffers – watch author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers reading one of his books every weekday on Instagram and talking about some of the things that went into making it. This link takes you to his website where all the videos have been collated.
Steve Lenton’s Draw-Along-A-Lenton – Children’s Illustrator Steve Lenton’s YouTube channel is full of great videos showing children that everyone can draw and is being updated frequently.
StoryTime4HomeTime with James Mayhew – last March author and illustrator James Mayhew started posting videos on Youtube each day and they are still available to watch. Whether you’re in school or at home you can listen to a story and watch James draw upside down! A lovely, soothing end to the day. Highly recommended.
Elle McNicoll Lockdown Writing Class – the author of A Kind of Spark and Show Us Who You Are, both published by Knights Of is generously sharing these free sessions every Monday and Friday and will be assigning tasks at the end of each. These are suitable for young readers aged 9+.
Staying Home Picture Book Free e-book by Sally Nicholls and Viviane Schwarz – this lovely picture books is still available to everyone as a free download from the Andersen Press website as part of their continued effort to entertain and occupy children and their parents during lockdown.
Nosy Crow Free Resources – these publishers have put together lots of activities, resources, free Nosy Crow books and other content which they hope will help keep families happy. There are lots of links to fabulous stuff here.
Kids Poems and Stories With Michael Rosen – This is the official Michael Rosen video channel. All videos and playlists on this channel have been approved by Michael Rosen and are safe to watch.
SF Said: Virtual Author Visits – a helpful blogpost by SF Said, author of Varjak Paw, describing how his virtual visits have worked during the pandemic. This will inspire and reassure authors and schools in equal measure. In addition, to replace school visits during lockdown, SF Said will be doing a live Twitter chat on Tuesdays from 2-3pm, answering questions about his books, & chatting about reading, writing & books in general. PARENTS & TEACHERS: please tweet SF Said questions from your children. Use the hashtag #whatSFSaid
Gaspard and the Quiet Day – If you are a parent, carer or teacher trying to find a comforting way of explaining the current situation to young children this is wonderful. A video of a special story written by Zeb Soanes and illustrated by James Mayhew, it is both thoughtful and reassuring. Perfectly done.
Nick Sharratt’s Drawing Tips – Lots of videos with drawing activities based on his well known books such as the Daisy series by Kes Gray plus the characters for Jacqueline Wilson’s books and more.
Robin Stevens The Detective Society’s Top- Secret Files – loads of activities linked to Robin’s books plus ‘How to Have the Perfect Midnight Feast’ and other such delights.
Fly With Tiny Owl Learning Resources – the publishers of some of my favourite picture books have created some lovely resources linked to their books. These include: Author readings/ bedtime stories, Activity packs, Crafts and Teacher resources.
Piers Torday Storytime – Piers Torday will be reading The Dark Wild* at 2.30pm every weekday from Weds 6th Jan, a chapter a day, live on Instagram, or catch up later on YouTube.
Art with Clara Vulliamy – Author and illustrator Clara Vulliamy has started sharing entertaining art and drawing activities on her YouTube channel based on the characters from her much loved books.
Walkers Picture Book Party – ACTIVITY SHEETS: drawing, spot-the-difference or escape some mazes, there’s something for everyone!
Coronavirus: A Book for Children – Publishers Nosy Crow have produced a free information book explaining the coronavirus to children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler, with expert input. This is excellent & can be downloaded via the link above.
That’s all for now, I will add others as and when I find them. Don’t forget if you are a member of your local library they will provide a range of online resources that are included in your membership.