With Stay-at-Home orders keeping many of us inside and warmer weather upon us, most kids would rather be on the playground with their friends than stuck indoors.   It can be a real challenge to offer entertainment beyond the television. So give your kids a playdate with a book!  

I’ve collected an assortment of fun and engaging storytelling websites and video channels making ‘read it again!’ as easy as hitting replay.  

Even after this crisis has passed, reading aloud helps develop a lifelong love of reading and connection to others through story.

While most of these are a collection of videos, there are also many generous authors and readers with scheduled live book readings.  Please check the individual site links for scheduling updates.


Storytimes On-Demand:


Storyline Online
There are a ton of great books here, read aloud by actors from Kristen Bell and Sean Astin to Betty White and James Earl Jones.  Your child can simply enjoy the video with adorably animated illustrations, or learn — with the help of an adult — from the activity guides included with each book.   This site is sponsored by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is supported by donations, but the videos are free to watch.
Favorites:  A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, read by Sean Astin, and Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, read by David Harbour

Brightly Storytime
Brightly, sponsored by Penguin Random House, is dedicated to helping parents raise life-long readers and features content for kids of all ages.  Their YouTube Channel contains enough stories to keep your child entertained for hours. Go to the Playlist tab to find an assortment of categories, like Folk and Fairy Tales, Dr. Seuss, Animal Stories, books that celebrate diversity and inclusiveness, or simply find the category for the child’s age group, and hit ‘play’.  There are fifty-one books in the ages 2-5 category alone!
Favorite:  The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Bri Reads
This charming YouTube channel features 45 read-along stories as well as sing-alongs and drawing tutorials, and is updated regularly.   Bri has so much enthusiasm and personality, and she clearly enjoys every moment. Her interactive stories like Red: A Crayon’s Story and When Pencil Met Eraser are cleverly animated and engaging.
Favorites:  When Pencil Met Eraser, by Karen Kilpatrick and The Mitten by Jan Brett

Scholastic Storybook Treasures
Classic children’s stories with animated illustrations.  The highlight of this channel is that it also has stories translated into Spanish and Mandarin.
Favorite: How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food (Spanish), and If You Made a Million (English)

Storytime From Space
What child wouldn’t want a real astronaut to read them a story?   Sponsored by the Global Space Education Foundation, Story Time From Space sends space and space travel related storybooks to the International Space Station where they are read aloud by the astronauts stationed there.  There are also several space-related science videos. So much fun!


Live Events:


Check the linked websites for updates on books read and scheduling changes.

Penguin Kids – Live stories every weekday on Facebook at 11:15am Eastern

Julia Cook reads on Facebook Live at 9am Central on Monday and Friday mornings. 

James Dean reads Pete the Cat books at 12pm Eastern on Instagram Live

Diane Alber reads on Facebook daily, and her past videos are archived on her website.


About the Author:
Christine Jarrett lives in the Chicago suburbs and works at Cornerstone Used Books where she shares her love of reading with kids from 1 to 101. Her favorite children’s books are Hachiko Waits by Lesléa Newman and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. In her spare time, she talks to dragons.


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