Is Your Kid Hopelessly Bored? A Local Youth Librarian Has Some Thoughts

Through the words of J.K. Rowling, Hermione Granger famously told us, “When in doubt go to the library.”

But what does one do when library buildings are closed? Especially when we find ourselves social distancing from home with our children during this unprecedented time.

As a long-time youth librarian, I am still going to suggest that you go to the library—the digital library is always open and in the Kansas City metro, you have four large library systems available to you. Bring out that dependable library card or apply for one online and take advantage of all we have to offer you.

At Kansas City Public Library (, click on “Books, Music, Movies, Digital” and then “Digital Branch.” There you will find some of my faves, including Hoopla, where you can check out movies, music, television shows, e-books, e-audio books, and comic books. There are no wait times for these items—just check out and dive in. They have a “children’s-only” search option, and through this time we have increased the number of items you can borrow each month.

For some wonderful films also check Kanopy Kids (there’s Kanopy for you parents too). Under the e-book category be sure to explore Bookflix, which pairs Scholastic Books with creative animated film shorts based on great children’s books.

For something slightly different, head to our library Facebook page each morning at 10:30 a.m., seven days a week, for a story time with one of our children’s librarians. Other fun interactive library programs are planned for Facebook in the coming days so check back often.

And don’t forget the Library’s lower tech option of Dial-a-Story. Just grab your phone, call 816-701-3456 and listen to a librarian read you a terrific book. There’s a new story every day.

Library staff encourages you to explore elsewhere online too. Artists, musicians, and other creators are responding to our social-distancing requirements by singing for us, giving us drawing lessons, sharing writing prompts and more. The new #OperationReadAloud group on Facebook was started this week by librarians as a place to share these online happenings for children. Feel free to join the group as a parent or caregiver.

Remember too that play is learning. Every moment of every day does not need to be filled with structured learning for your child while you also try to be productive from home. Play relieves us all of some of our stress while we learn. Some examples:

*How are your paper airplane design skills? Build and fly and adapt and fly again. How far do they go? How high? Practice practical measuring.

*Explore our local great museums such as the Nelson-Atkins and Kemper on Google Arts & Culture. See a favorite piece of art? Try creating in that style with your child and share why it is a favorite. Ask your child to share their favorite.

*Did you excel at math story problems? Why not make up some of your own. Solve them on paper, act them out, laugh.

*Maybe you won the spelling bee in your elementary classroom. Use Scrabble tiles to make words or make your own paper letter tiles. Make up a six-word story using the word you make. Make it funny or silly or sad or weird.

*Play some music. Sing. Have a Dance Party. Take a walk and bring back things you find to create more art. Have silent reading time.

*Make a simple dinner but decorate the table with paper flowers you make together.

*Make toasts with your water glasses and tell each other one good thing about the day.

And don’t forget to read aloud before bed. Enjoy some calming snuggles while preparing for restful sleep so you can all play and learn and work from home another day.

— Crystal Faris is the Director of Youth & Family Engagement (YFE) for the Kansas City Public Library. The YFE Department includes all the children’s and teen librarians for the branches and outreach as well as the library’s Digital Media Lab.

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