With schools closed, finding ways to engage and entertain the kids is a tricky task, so we’ve compiled a list of ways to help children explore their love of books at home, from drawing book characters and sharing stories to virtual storytimes and free activities – and it’s fun for all involved!
How are you keeping younger readers entertained? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.
1. Unleash your child’s inner artist
Check out #DrawWithRob – fun drawing tutorials from award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Rob Biddulph. Rob posts draw-along videos every Tuesday and Thursday on his website – everyone in the family can learn how to draw characters from his books (Gregosaurus is our favourite!).
This month, we’re also giving you the chance to win one of five sets of Rob’s joyful picture books!
2. Share a Story for 10 minutes a day
World Book Day may be over for another year, but you can still join the Reading Revolution! You helped smash their campaign to Share a Million Stories, with an amazing 2.4 million story shares. You can still register, take part, and boost the Share-o-Meter even more – simply read together for at least 10 minutes a day. By doing this, you’ll help create readers for life and make story-sharing a habit of a lifetime.
3. Join an online book club
Author of the wonderful Pages & Co. series, Anna James, has started The Bookwanderers Club – join in with her online book club featuring books by Frank Cottrel-Boyce, Sharna Jackson, Robin Stevens, and many more!
Welsh bookshop Griffin Books also host a regular children’s book club, held on the second Thursday of the month, via Zoom.
4. Watch a virtual storytime
Is your junior bookworm missing their storytime sessions at school? Many bookshops are reading stories over social media! Seven Stories in Newcastle has partnered with publisher Andersen Press to provide weekly storytimes on Friday, such as Clem and Crab by Fiona Lumbers, A Fox Called Herbert by Margaret Sturton, and The Little Island by Smriti Prasadam.
For more bookshop storytimes, check out Mr B’s Emporium’s YouTube channel. The Bath-based indie bookshop upload videos daily – so far they’ve read Tortoise by Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield, and Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie, to name a couple!
Puffin Books has also started Puffin Storytime for 20 minutes each day of story magic.
5. Watch their favourite authors online
If your little reader loves seeing their favourite authors at school and in bookshops, you’re in luck! Author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers has started the Stay at Home Story Time series on Instagram Live, where he reads a book and talks about some of the things that went into creating his stories.
For daily doses of creativity and fun, check out Authorfy’s 10 Minute Challenges, set by bestselling authors and illustrators – M.G. Leonard challenges kids to create a comic (and their own plastic monster!), while J.M. Joseph challenges them to write about a mystery package.
Fans of the magical How to Train Your Dragon series can learn how to create their very own dragon and much more with author and illustrator Cressida Cowell.
6. Keep them busy with free activities
There are lots of ideas out there to help children learn at home – and we’ve gone to children’s publishers for some of the best stuff! Usborne launched Play and Learn at Home, full of downloadable activities, tips for parents, and mindfulness exercise (for both you and the kids!). Egmont have also created 14 Stories in 14 Days, designed for children who are quarantined for two weeks, with each day containing a different activity pack sure to keep little ones entertained. Nosy Crow have also created a free book, Coronavirus: A Book for Children, illustrated by the wonderful Axel Sheffler, which answers key questions in a simple and easy way for 5 to 9 year-olds.
We’re also giving you the chance to win a bundle of activity books from Usborne every week until 14th May!
7. Listen to a bookish podcast together
We know it can be difficult to get children away from the screen, so why not listen to a bookish podcast as a family? They’re a great way for kids to learn new things, whilst not overstimulating them in the same way as tablets or TV. There are tons of great podcasts out there – our personal favourites are: David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast, full of hilarious facts and perfect for the entire family, and Down the Rabbit Hole, a monthly podcast featuring interviews from children’s authors and illustrators including Kes Gray and Jim Field, creators of the Oi! series.
Tip: Why not create your own booky podcast with your children? You can record it on your phone and sent it to friends and family!
8. See how many they can get in a bumper book quiz
For children who love having their knowledge tested, there’s World Book Day’s online Bumper Book Quizzes for bookworms aged 5 to 14. There are printable quizzes for both younger and older bookworms too – perfect for playing at the breakfast table!
Tip: Why not encourage them to create their own quiz, filled with questions about their favourite literary characters and authors? They could even quiz their friends over video chats!
9. Take them on an adventure with our Book Island Challenge
Thousands of young readers have enjoyed guessing which popular book characters live on each island in our fun games for kids – there are two available to play!
You can also visit Caboodlers’ Corner for more fun stuff for kids – get recommendations from their favourite authors, ask questions to our guest Book Doctors, and enter one of our new competitions.
10. Send a treat to a special young bookworm
It’s always a great time to choose a new book – and younger readers love picking their next adventure. National Book Tokens gift cards are the perfect gift for children of all ages and can still be bought from many bookshops over the phone, in person at WHSmith (with post offices) and supermarkets, and online.
For that extra special gift – a National Book Token with your own photo and message – we’re currently offering free personalisation and free delivery.
When it comes to choosing their new book, many independent bookshops are accepting National Book Tokens over the phone, so check with your favourites to see whether they can do this for you – plus they can also be spent online. Whether a funny book, scary book, lengthy book, or book with pictures, they’ll be sure to pick just the right book for them.