Free, Online Entertainment to Keep Your Kids Occupied
by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian
Within the past couple weeks, coronavirus has swept the country, affecting most aspects of our lives. Schools have closed, the library has closed, and businesses are increasingly encouraging their employees to work from home instead of coming into the office. All of this is to encourage social distancing—essentially, staying at home as much as possible so as to slow the spread of germs. This is a wonderful concept for introverts like me, but it can be a bit more difficult for parents, who have to keep their kids entertained while also making sure they wash their hands thoroughly. Fortunately, the library has plenty of free, online resources that can help. All of these can be found by visiting the library’s website, www.MHKLibrary.org, and going to the “Online Resources” page.
For beginning readers, BookFlix is a great online reading option. BookFlix pairs fiction and nonfiction books on many topics, like spring, farms, and dinosaurs, allowing children to read along with a narrator or by themselves. After kids finish each pair of books, they can play through simple puzzles to help with reading comprehension. BookFlix is a state resource, meaning it’s automatically available to anyone living in the state of Kansas.
The TumbleBooks Library has a wide variety of kids’ books for all ages and types of readers, ranging from picture books to graphic novels. Picture books and beginning readers have a read-along option, while graphic novels and higher-level ebooks offer a more traditional reading experience. The best part of the TumbleBooks Library is that there’s no waiting and no checkout limits, meaning kids can read their favorite Geronimo Stilton comics or Kate DiCamillo books for hours without worrying about stopping. AudioBookCloud is also available, with audiobooks for kids through adults, including loads of Mary Poppins and other classics.
Sunflower eLibrary is an ebook staple at the library, offering a robust library of ebooks and digital audiobooks. Patrons can only check out 5 items at once, but just return items you’re done reading in order to check out more books. Sunflower does have limited copies of books available, so you may have to wait in line for popular books. Kids, teens, and adults can all find books to read on Sunflower, including some read-along beginning readers and a good variety of comics. Best of all, many popular series are on Sunflower, like Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer, Dog Man, and Harry Potter.
Hoopla offers ebooks, audiobooks, comics, movies, TV shows, and music, all for kids and adults. Hoopla has a limit of 5 checkouts per month per library card, but everything is immediately available to read. Alongside oodles of popular ebooks and audiobooks, Hoopla’s got a nice catalog of Nickelodeon shows and Disney soundtracks, but the comics are my favorite part. From Big Nate to Minecraft and Lumberjanes to Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Hoopla seems to have most popular kids’ comic series out there.
For free movies, look no further than Kanopy Kids. Kanopy provides movies galore, and Kanopy Kids is its children’s section. Unlike the main section of Kanopy, which has a 10-checkout-per-month limit, Kanopy Kids allows unlimited views of kids’ movies and TV shows. And, boy, what movies and shows does it have! PBS Kids shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Berenstain Bears, and Wild Kratts, and select seasons of Sesame Street. On top of that, Kanopy Kids has a wide variety of movies and animated versions of picture books, like Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. If you want something a little more educational, try the language-learning videos to teach your kids a new language.
There are also non-library resources available which can further enrich your kids’ days. Scholastic Learn at Home has brief, themed lesson plans available to teach children about different subjects, for a range of age levels. You can also find online storytime videos at both Storyline Online and World Book Day—these won’t replace the fun of storytime, but they may help. There are also many lists of good educational games for kids, which can help your children while away the hours until schools are back in session.
Though we’re closed for the time being, the library will do all it can to support our patrons during this uncertain time. Our online resources will continue to be available 24/7, and we’ll be sharing other fun resources and news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Until we see you again, happy reading, and please wash your hands.