In these unimaginable times, here are some newer and creative ways to keep kids engaged, stay nurtured mentally and learn with fun.
Authors are going live in real time to engage children and create a safe place where imaginations are fired. A number of them are offering online experiences – podcasts, classes, readings, workshops, meditation – that are easily accessed wherever you are.
Gene Luen Yang – Instagram book tour, Q & A
Former teacher, cartoonist and author Gene Luen Yang is on a virtual book tour for his new graphic novel Dragon Hoops. Touring as a cartoon on his Instagram page, he will take reader questions and respond in a comic strip. Yang said he has a special place in my heart for all the parents who are now unexpectedly home schooling their kids and will be working with his publisher to develop resources to help them with this monumental task.
Amie Kaufman – Virtual conversations with authors and readers
Science fiction and fantasy writer Amie Kaufman (The Illuminae Files series, Aurora Rising) will, for the next few weeks (and perhaps even longer), on Monday nights, boost the work of several authors, encouraging people to buy their new books and hosting virtual conversations using the hashtag #kidlitgoesviral. Dozens of writers have signed up to participate, with teachers, librarians, parents and readers joining to ask questions.
Grace Lin – Drawing Tutorials, Podcast
An illustrator and author of middle-grade novels and picture books, Grace is posting drawing tutorials and readings from her books on her YouTube channel. She’s taught viewers how to draw a Chinese dragon and a dog starting from the numeral 5, and has read from Mulan: Before the Sword, an original prequel to the upcoming live-action film, and Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, about twin sisters trying to distinguish themselves from each other.
Lin has also started a podcast, Kids Ask Authors, in which children’s authors answer questions from readers about their books and creative process.
Mo Willems – Drawing together, Simple Animations
Author and illustrator Mo Willems is inviting kids to draw with him every day for Lunch Doodles. In the first couple of sessions, hosted on YouTube, he walked viewers through his process, gave them a tour of his studio, answered questions and drew whimsical creatures or created simple animations for them to try at home.
Mac Barnett – Readings
Mac Barnett has written dozens of books, including the Jack Book and Mac B. Kid Spy series. He is reading a book every afternoon on Instagram Live. The writer, who often collaborates with the illustrator Jon Klassen, has read Extra Yarn, about a girl who changes her community with a magical box of never-ending yarn, and Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, about a boy who gets a blue whale as a pet.
Oliver Jeffers – Reading live
Oliver Jeffers recently wrote on his website, let’s be bored together.
Jeffers (The Day the Crayons Quit, How to Catch a Star, The Fate of Fausto) is reading on Instagram Live on weekday afternoons and making all the recordings available on his site.
Vashti Harrison – Drawing Tutorials
Vashti Harrison will share drawing tutorials and worksheets on Instagram inspired by her Little Leaders, Little Dreamers and Little Legends books, which highlight influential black men and women in United States history. She created a highlights reel on her page called Quarantine Fun! and plans to share sessions on themes such as How to draw your own Little Leader.
Jarrett J. Krosoczka – Drawing Sessions
Jarrett J. Krosoczka, best known for his Lunch Lady series of graphic novels, is hosting drawing sessions on his YouTube channel every day. He has been teaching basic illustration techniques, like how to draw a face and its expressions, but also often shares anecdotes about growing up as a kid who loved to draw.
Peter H. Reynolds – Readings
The writer and illustrator is reading aloud from his work on Facebook Live every day. So far, he’s read The Word Collector, The Dot and Ish, his sequel to The Dot.
Carson Ellis – Art Club
Illustrator Carson Ellis (Home, Du Iz Tak?) is running a Quarantine Art Club for her followers. She posts prompts such as is a cat, wearing glasses and holding a golden scepter, and encourages readers to create their own art in response. She shares some of the results using the hashtag #QuarantineArtClub, and features some on her website.
Susan Tan – Activities, Workshops, Readings
The Authors Everywhere! YouTube channel, started by author Susan Tan, includes activities, writing workshops and readings from a range of authors. In addition to keeping kids busy, the workshops are also meant to give young people an emotional outlet for addressing their fears about the pandemic.
Susan Verde – Readings
Susan Verde, who wrote the picture books I Am Love and I Am Human, among others, is reading from her books live on Instagram. She is also starting a channel for kid-friendly meditations and mantras.
Chris Haughton – Stay-at-home Readings & Art Classes
Chris Haughton’s book reads are more live art tutorials for budding young illustrators, some with singalongs. He’s packaged resources on his site to download and join in at home. His cut-out stencils and colouring-in templates featuring his signature collages are a stay-at-home schooling parent’s dream.
Haughton says, tune in to meet George himself. There will be cake. We will be well behaved. And of course bring a pen and paper for a bit of drawing afterwards … I will show how I make my art and we will make a collage together.
His books are simple and feature stories with a social conscience where themes such as climate change, gender and racial equality are woven in as part of the narrative.
He is offering free downloads of his app Hat Monkey which includes music and dance routines.
Tune in on Haughton’s Facebook page at 5pm GMT every weekday.
Talu Tales – One Story at a Time
“The world is a bit topsy-turvy at the moment, and many of us are feeling the hits from cancelled events, lots of work, kids being cooped up at home and being isolated from friends and a regular routine. Today we’re celebrating all things community, reading, creativity and storytelling. Pop your head in when you need a little pep-up and we’ll be here all day!”
Talu Tales is a fantasy story world that inspires kids to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They are on a mission to close the gender gap one story at a time, with stories that feature female characters in non-stereotypical plotlines. They released little story surprises for 11 hours straight accessible from their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels.
For this huge reservoir of information, grateful thanks – Concepción de León’s article in The New York Times, March 20, 2020 and Justine O’Donnell’s article for The Guardian, 26 March 2020.