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Saturday, June 06, 2020

Social distancing: Here’s a guide to resources that can keep children entertained and informed

As schools remain shut and social distancing means more time indoors, count on these options to keep children engaged

Written by Paromita Chakrabarti | Updated: March 23, 2020 8:53:55 am
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For age group 4+ years

With no school buses to catch in the morning, if bedtimes have gone for a toss, you could try tuning in to Instagram Live every night at 11.30 pm, to listen to Oliver Jeffers read out one of his picture books. One of the most celebrated picture-book writers of our times, Jeffers, 43, is known for his sensitive, humorous books, that include How to Catch a Star (2004), The Day the Crayons Quit (2013), Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth (2017). The reading sessions are also available on his website

* Other picture-book writers, who are hosting reading sessions on Instagram, include Sophie Blackall and Mac Burnett.

On the Instagram page Save With Stories, Hollywood actors such as Amy Adams, Brie Larson, comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres, Democrat leader Kamala Harris and musicians such as Al Yankovic have come together to read out stories and sing nursery rhymes to the young ’uns.

The International Children’s Digital Library is a gift that doesn’t stop giving. With a mission for building a free resource base for diversity in children’s literature, a simple registration will make books available from different cultures. The website is easy to navigate and can also be used as an educational resource tool

For age group 7+ years

Generations of Indian children have grown up with these comics. Now, Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle have made available their entire catalogue free till March 31 to help fight quarantine boredom. Available on:;

Award-winning American illustrator Carson Ellis has formed a Quarantine Art Club on her Instagram handle, where she gives out art assignments for children and interested adults. Some of these assignments include self-portraits, creating images from prompts given by her or determined by oneself, and learning to contour draw with continuous lines.

Scholastic is offering free access to its Litpro library, that has material appropriate from kindergarten upwards. It also comes with audio recorder facilities to practise diction and fluency, among other things. Parents will need to sign up on for access.

In India, writers such as Bijal Vachharajani, Natasha Sharma, Venita Coelho, Tanu Shree Singh and many others have come together for a #ThodaReadingCorona campaign with readings at 11 am across social media. These are for both primary and middle grades.

Inspired by picture book writers, writer Meghna Singhee is reading out books appropriate for middle graders (think Captain Underpants) on Instagram.

A spot of physical activity might help expend all the pent-up energy. provides videos of yoga routines for the young ones, especially helpful to soothe frayed nerves and “why-can’t-I-go-to-the-park” whines.

For age group 12+ years

If delayed academic sessions is keeping any parent up, there is help to alleviate the guilt. provides lessons in maths, english, social sciences, besides access to films, games and quizzes on different topics. There are rigorous thematic worksheets and innovative teaching aids that make learning fun. There are two kinds of free accesses for schools and families and the material will be made available on any screen device.

The non-profit educational organisation, Khan Academy, started by the US-based educator Salman Khan, needs little introduction, given its prolific track record in providing free education to children. To help children cope with the self-quarantining period, it has put up routines and worksheets for students from pre-school to Class XII on their website, Even though it follows the American curriculum, some parts of it, mathematics and science, for instance, is generic enough for children across the world to benefit from.

Introduce your child to good, old diary writing. It will keep them away from the screens, sure, but also help them engage better with their emotions.

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