Early Childhood Literacy Online Resources

Friday, April 17, 2020 - 10:45am

Dear Parents and Teachers of Early Childhood and Elementary School Children-

Like me, I am sure many of you are wondering how to keep your children engaged during these fairly unstructured days.  Although I personally dream of curling up on the couch and losing myself in a book, telling my kids to “get a book” doesn’t seem to lead to very much excitement in my house.  Please tell me you can relate, and there isn’t something terribly wrong with my parenting (gulp).

As parents and teachers, we know how important reading is to our children’s long term success.  The more that we read…the more we learn. We learn about the world (teachers often call this “background knowledge”). We build bigger vocabularies. And in turn, this helps children succeed in school and beyond.  Oh…and one other thing. If we do it right, reading is fun. I have a pencil case that says, “If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong.”  Exactly!

So I went hunting to see what free resources there are to inspire my kids to read.  Because clearly just me saying “Reading is fun” isn’t very convincing.  I’m sharing what I found and hoping that at least one or two of these hit the mark for your children.  

  1. This versatile site (www.romper.com) has different lists of books that may appeal to your children. Also, famous people (authors, illustrators, actors) read to your child!  For example, check out Jennifer Garner and her sweet lab reading “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. 
  2. For a direct link to the famous readers, go to: https://www.romper.com/p/famous-people-reading-childrens-books-is-one-good-thing-during-the-coronavirus-shut-in-22621288
  3. More famous adults can be found reading books on https://www.storylineonline.net.  Oprah Winfrey, Wanda Sykes, Sean Astin and more…it’s quite the line up!
  4. https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk has specialized resources for both teachers and parents.  There are free ebooks …as well as fun and educational literacy and math activities for children ages 3-11 years.
  5. And did you know that some libraries are streaming storytimes? For example, check out Bethlehem Area Public Library (http://www.bethlehempubliclibrary.org/programs/children/story-time) and The Free Library of Philadelphia (https://libwww.freelibrary.org/calendar/series/storytimes). Don’t you think librarians are the best people ever?!

Also, here are two resources that typically cost money…but fees are currently waived.  Thank you for supporting parents and teachers!

  • www.newsela.com has informational texts (and teachers- corresponding lesson plans- woohoo!) for students from elementary school through high school.
  • www.getepic.com has free ebooks for children ages 5-11.  For families who speak Spanish in the home, books are available in Spanish as well.  

Also, if you want your children off technology…consider having them read to siblings, pets, or stuffed animals.  

As famed children’s author Kate DiCamillo says, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” 

I’d love to hear from you about what you have found successful in inspiring your children to read – either with these resources or others that your children have enjoyed.  Please write me at brook.sawyer@lehigh.edu

Research Focus: 
Field of Expertise: 
Language and Literacy