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Reading Resources – free

Compiled for Children’s Day School Community by
CDS Library Team, Tech Department, and Academic Leadership Team

Reading and Listening*

* ​List inspired by resources compiled by Mei Yang, Librarian, St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA

Libby​ – This is a platform from OverDrive where you can access thousands of popular eBooks and eAudiobooks for kids, teens, and adults for free using your SFPL Scholar Card.
(Division: MS)

Sora – The kid-friendly version of Libby for Overdrive. Please review ​these Sora instructionsto get started. We ​highly encourage​ your students to use Sora instead of Libby because they get instant access to age-appropriate eBooks and eAudiobooks without having to wade through what’s available on Libby.
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

TumbleBooks – K-6 children’s ebook database available for free through August 31, 2020. Just click the link above to instantly access a selection of titles for young readers.
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

Audible ​– A selection of popular audio books. Free while schools are closed for teens and younger ages.
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

RivetedLit Free Reads​ – Featured popular books, including new releases, from Simon Teen (Simon & Schuster Publishing) that are available for free for a limited time. Check regularly for updates.
(Division: MS)

SwoonReads – A crowdsourced YA fiction imprint of Macmillan Publishing where aspiring writers post their novels for free reading. You may discover the next big hit! Or, be discovered yourself if you’re a writer.
(Division: MS)

Hoopla– You can use your SFPL Scholar Card to access this free digital service for movies, television shows, music, eAudiobooks, comics, and eBooks.
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

Young Adult Audiobooks on Spotify​ – This article recommends 10 YA audiobooks available on Spotify, and includes directions on how to find more yourself.
(Division: MS)

TeenBookCloud – A selection of free fiction & nonfiction ebooks, as well as graphic novels, drama, and poetry offered by Tumble Book Library while schools are closed. Also get audiobooks for teens, adults, and children at ​AudioBookCloud – includes Spanish language audiobooks.
(Divison: MS)

Apple Books app​ (for Apple laptops and iPads/iPhones) –
Bookstore > Browse sections > Young Adult > Free Bookstore > Search > type in “Free Classics”
Bookstore > Kids > Top Free
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

For Amazon Prime members. From the Kindle app​ > Discover > Menu icon (next to Search box) > Prime Reading
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

AudioFile SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+ that will run April 30 – July 29, 2020. Two titles are released each week. Download them before the week is up and listen on your own time. Sign up for ​email alerts​ or ​text syncYA to 25827​ to receive Title Alerts.
(Division: MS)

READ.GOV​ – Read classics in the public domain like​ Little Women​ as a service provided by the Library of Congress. Explore books for kids, teens, adults, parents & educators on the left side navigation menu on the homepage.
(Division: LS, MS)

Knowbuddy Resources – providing free unlimited access to hundreds of eBooks through online virtual portal. Available until the end of May. 
User: Password: KNOWBUDDY

Read Alouds

The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read Alouds & Activities​ – Some of our favorite children’s authors are sharing read alouds and activities.
(Division: ECP, LS, MS)

Storytime from Space​ – Listen to astronauts on the International Space Station read aloud from popular children’s books.
(Division: ECP, LS)

Little Brown Library – A list of free resources like Podcasts and Author Essays from the publisher, Little, Brown and Company. (Division: LS, MS)

Virtual Storytime with SFPL – Available on Instagram at @sfpubliclibrary Tuesdays & Thursdays at 2 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Select stories will also be shared on the Library’s YouTube channel. SFPL also offers storytimes in Spanish!

Curated Lists Created by Librarians

The following are a list of additional learning resources vetted by K-12 school librarians and youth service public librarians. We share these resources as additional online tools for families, outside of the classroom curriculum and online platforms teachers are already using (i.e. Seesaw, Google Classroom, IXL, Epic, etc.)

  • Internet Resources During School Closures — A super-comprehensive list of online learning resources for middle schoolers compiled Alexandre Petrakis, SFUSD Teacher Librarian and Youth Librarian for San Francisco Public Library (Division: MS)
  • Just for fun links: free resources for kids — A list of free, virtual activities to do with kids, compiled by Tana Perotin, Director of Library and Research Services, Bellarmine College Preparatory (Division: ECP, LS, MS) 
  • Recreational Reading Links — This list of reading and e-books/e-audiobooks is tailored to grade K-5, compiled by Keira Pride, Manager of Library Services, Stratford School (Division: ECP, LS) 
  • How to Keep Kids Happy, Safe and Connected During the Pandemic — Suggested activities and a list of online resources from the blog of Connected Camps, a not-for-profit organization providing connected learning experiences that foster creativity, problem solving, collaboration and interest-driven learning. (Division: LS, MS)

Open Wide School

Built in a matter of days on a shared vision by more than 25 organizations that came together, Wide Open School is a free collection of quality online learning experiences for kids curated by the editors at Common Sense. Watch for new features and content partners frequently.


Common Sense Media Resources for Families

Check out Common Sense Media’s new hub Resources for Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic for information about:

  • Learning at home and homework help
  • Helping kids understand COVID-19 news coverage
  • What to watch, read, and play
  • How to stay calm for you and your kids
  • Spanish language resources for Latinx families
  • Learning at home and homework help
  • more…

Quick Tips from Common Sense Media

Manage your expectations. Your kids will not be learning at the same pace or breadth as a usual school day. Figure two to three hours a day to start. Don’t stress too much about this.

Make time for breaks and fun. All of us are anxious as we manage this new reality, so take any opportunity to relax and laugh together. It will make the hard stuff easier.

Set a schedule. Get everyone on the same page so you don’t have to nag. Routines can be comforting for everyone.

Review schools’ plans. In some cases, schools will have a very specific education plan during closures. Use their instructions as a guide for setting up your schedule.


Math. About 30 minutes.
Watch a Khan Academy lesson and practice. If your math skills aren’t what they used to be, visit Khan Academy’s FAQ for tips on how to help your kid with math or get them started on self-directed learning. Here is their Quick Start Guide if you’re ready to jump in.

Other math resources:
Wuzzit Trouble
Math Snacks
Marble Math
DragonBox Algebra 12+

Reading. 30-60 minutes.
If your kid has a book they’re reading in English class, make some progress on that. If not, choose one for fun. If you can’t leave the house, Libby connects you to your local library. Punch in your library card number and you have access to a wide range of ebooks kids can access on their Kindle, tablet, or computer.
Other reading apps:
Marvel Hero Tales
Weirdwood Manor
Middle School Confidential
Reading Rewards
Epic! – Kids’ Books and Videos

Physical education. 30-60 minutes.
Ideally you can get outside and go for a walk or throw a ball around. But if you’re stuck indoors, you can follow along to YouTube exercise videos, set up an obstacle course, do some yoga or stretching, or try jumping jacks.

Just Dance 2020 helps tweens and teens work up a sweat while listening to favorite music (you’ll need a game console to play it). It has some mature lyrics, so choose something different if that’s a concern. More ideas:
RingFit Adventure
Charity Miles
Pokémon Go


Connect with friends. 30-60 minutes.
Tweens and teens thrive on social connections, so make sure to keep these going even if you aren’t allowing in-person time. If they’re already on popular social platforms, this might be the time to re-negotiate any time limits so they can get their social fix virtually.

Houseparty is a group video-chat tool that, when used appropriately, can be a fun way for friends to connect and catch up. Other picks:
Airtime – Group Video Chat
Marco Polo – Video Chat
MeWe Network


Creative time. 90-120 minutes.
Bring out the pens and paper! This can be a nice chunk of time off screens. Whatever your kid is into—piano, papier-mâché, playwriting—this is the perfect opportunity to let loose. Of course, there are lots of ways media and tech can support these interests if you choose.

YouTube has an endless amount of instructional content, including music lessons, DIY creators, painting (gotta love Bob Ross!), and more. Keep younger kids in family spaces so you can make sure they are finding quality content. More choices: – Creative Challenges
Wizard School
Lily – Playful Music Creation

Chores. 15-30 minutes.
Every family has a different way of managing household responsibilities. But if you’re finding this to be a particularly challenging time to get your kids to help out, you can try some apps that can help them stay organized and give some incentives.

Brili Routines is a task manager with a simple interface that works well for kids who need a little extra push to complete their daily tasks. Parents set up the tasks and then switch to the kid profile before turning it over. Kids earn rewards and learn to better manage their time. Other options:
Choiceworks Calendar
Chore Pad


Family time
When kids are stressed, they’re going to need even more chances to chill out, so this might be a time to relax rules about entertainment media. And while tweens and teens don’t always tell you that they need your support, they do. Watching movies or playing games together can be an easy way to be together in a low-stress way. Here are some ideas.

Jackbox Party Packs are collections of games that groups can play using individual devices (phones, tablets, laptops). You can download the game via providers such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Comcast Xfinity X1, and the game network Steam—and then play it from the couch. You can even invite friends and family from afar to join the game while video-chatting. Also try:

Other Resources

Helping kids stay focused
If you’re concerned that your kid won’t be able to stay on task while doing online work, you may need to get some tech help. Here are some options:
Screen Time (for iOS) and Family Link (for Android): Use these tools in conjunction with your kids’ devices to limit what they can do and when.
Forest: Stay focused, be present
Bear in Mind App: To Do list, reminders, tasks
Habitica: Gamified Task Manager
5 ways to block content on your child’s device


The CDS Community Chess Club uses for CDS kids and families to challenge each other, solve chess position puzzles, and learn chess skills, terms and obscure concepts such as “gaining a tempo” and “skewering.”

ChessKid: click here for more details.


For as long as schools are closed, Audible is open. Kids everywhere can stream a collection of stories in six different languages to keep them learning, dreaming and just being kids.

All stories are free to stream on desktops, laptops, phones and tablets.
Explore the collection, select a title and start listening.