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Resources for learning at home while we’re keeping each other safe

Many of us will find ourselves isolated during this unprecedented time.  Like many of our librarian colleagues, I’ve been curating.

Here’s a Wakelet list of free learning resources and tools to enjoy with kids and as a family, while were are at home. Note that this list points to resources made freely available by a growing number of publishers to support learning during this crisis.

And here are a couple of curated lists of free books and stories and free video channels.

And, this may be the very right time to make sure we spread the word about both our own and our public library colleagues’ digital media collections. Here’s a remix a post I shared a little while back.

While most of my friends and relatives have library cards, I am discovering, among the people I know who are not librarians, a surprising ignorance of the power of their cards to access digital media apps.

For me, new services have been game-changers. I no longer subscribe to print magazines because of my public library’s access to RBDigital. And, my public libraries’ Hoopla and Kanopy services now offer much valued intellectual balance to my commercial video apps.

So school librarian buddies, in addition to ensuring our students have access to our own digital assets while they are at home, we can build awareness of other library gifts.

Let’s help our public library colleagues share the bounty and the joy of their easy-to-access collections of magazines, ebooks, audiobooks, and videos for all ages.

When you are Facetiming or Skyping or Zooming with friends and family or communicating with your own students, let’s encourage folks to take out their library cards, find those barcodes and browse their public library’s digital assets to discover rich content to enjoy on their desktops, mobile devices or as apps on their televisions.

They are likely to find the following and much more.

RBDigital, from Recorded Books, offers instant, full-color, interactive digital magazines without any holds, checkout periods or other such limits. Checked out issues may be read instantly on the library site or downloaded to your app. Most new issues are released simultaneously with their print counterparts.

In addition to magazines, the platform offers audiobooks, eBooks, newspapers, comics, entertainment, education, health and wellness–more than 15 content formats.

EBSCO’s Flipster may be available through your public, academic, and school libraries. Use the app to find your library, then browse for magazines and download the issues you want for offline reading.

Hoopla Digital offers an app that allows you to instantly borrow, e-books, e-audiobooks, comics, movies, music and more, 24/7 with your library card. Borrowed items automatically return on their due dates. Simply download the Hoopla app ( and sign in with your library card.  There may be very reasonable per-month borrowing limits that will vary from library to library. And, you can now control your Hoopla account through the Amazon Alexa digital assistant. Browsable by a huge number of genres, the catalog may also be browsed in Kids Mode. You’ll find plenty of family-friendly titles across media formats.

Kanopy believes that the films that truly resonate with us do more than just entertainThey inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives. Hoping to reach viewers around the world, the streaming service works across devices with no fees and no commercials based on its public and university library partnerships.  Hundreds of new titles are added each month and this catalog is packed with classic titles, indie goodies and top documentaries, is a pure delight to browse. (Note: the public library pricing model here is cost-per-play. Libraries pay only for the films their members actually watch.)

Kanopy Kids‘ tagline is Educational, Enriching, Entertaining.  Indeed, this is one impressive collection of educational and engaging videos for kiddos, in fact, the whole family. The About page shares that the catalog is designed to  encourage social and emotional development, promote respect for community diversity, and inspire creativity.  Kanopy for Kids has partnered with Common Sense Media to include developmentally appropriate age ratings.  Select your first film, click on Watch Now and you will be prompted to select your library to authenticate.

The Libby App from Overdrive makes borrowing ebooks and audiobooks super easy. Browse Best Books of the Year, Your Next Great Read, Book Club Picks, To Hot to Hold, top subjects, what’s popular, what’s available, a wide array of genres and several intriguing and quirky lists. (Note that you may have to place holds on most popular titles.)

If your school offers the Sora App, the school library version of Overdrive’s Libby, students can read and listen to digital books on any device.

Tumblebooks is a collection of animated, talking picture books licensed from book publishers. The collection includes both fiction and non-fiction books, along with foreign language titles, Math Stories, Read-Along chapter books, TumbleTV playlists. and Tumble Puzzles and Games. Check to see if your library subscribes to TeenBookCloud for access to young adult ebooks, enhanced novels, graphic novels, videos and audio books across a variety of reading levels. AudioBook Cloud offers a curated database of streaming audio books for adults and is available by subscription to Public Libraries around the world.

Scholastic’s BookFLIX thematically pairs fiction and nonfiction titles to encourages early learners to discover the joy of reading while building both real-world knowledge and beginning reading skills.designed to bridge learning-to-read and reading-to-learn. will appeal to older students and parents. Some public libraries offer free access to’s high-quality video library of tutorials and courses taught by recognized industry experts. The service is available in multiple languages.

And, if you give your family member tips to access free media from their local public, library, they may just ask for a database to go with it. Or they may be interested in exploring other resources made available through their state libraries.

Here’s a handy map of free database offerings across the states.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Nafisa Miller says

    Hi Joyce,
    This is a fabulous resource. Do you mind if I share this with my colleagues at school?

  2. Locking ourselves in-home doesn’t mean we cannot have the luxury of reading books and educating ourselves. It is just a step to keep each other safe and gain knowledge through e-learning. There are several digital platforms which are providing e-books and journals without any cost. One must use this time appropriately. Thanks, Joyce for your idea of online entertainment and education for children in this article.

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