My kids love to read, especially the youngest one. She once saw a mug that said, “A day without reading is like . . . just kidding, I have no idea!” It’s pretty much her life motto. Just before the whole COVID-19 crisis really hit, we made a preemptive trip to the public library to get as many books as we were allowed on my card, just in case. That night, both the library and the schools announced they were closing.

Fast forward one month. The youngest has completely run out of physical books and has started re-reading her personal library and getting e-books from the library where possible. As the library shows no signs of reopening in time to meet this child’s insatiable need for stories, we are turning, of course, to the internet. As I discover resources, I will be adding to this list.

Plan B: I’m telling her to start writing her own stories.

Calgary Public Library:

Of course, the library has always had terrific e-resources and we’ve never appreciated them so much as now! You can also read or listen to the first Harry Potter book with no wait right now. No library card? No problem. Simply sign up online.

American Girl:

We’ve heard that American Girl is opening their online library and offering a few books each week for free. Check it out for both a fiction and a non-fiction option each week.

Internet Archive:

We’ve never tried using Internet Archive, but they say they work to archive web history and pay special attention to books, with a goal of providing universal access to digital versions of books.


Project Gutenberg offers books that are free of copyright in the US, making them an option for some classics. Sometimes this means that the book may not be free of copyright in other countries, so your success at obtaining these free books may vary.

Open Library:

This site has over a million books, and though it seems that not all of them are available, they have lots of variety.

Scholastic Canada:

Prefer physical books? (Me, too.) Now that the schools are closed, Scholastic Canada has changed their options and you can have books shipped directly to your house (shipping and handling is 10% of your pre-tax order, with a minimum payment of $6.).

Just Books Read Aloud:

Little ones who need to be read to might enjoy the Just Books Read Aloud, as they can see pictures in a book while they are read to.

Storytime Online:

If you have little ones, you can also check out the Family Fun Calgary Storytime category for COVID-19 online storytimes. Just be sure that the category says COVID-19, because no in-person storytimes are happening.

Looking for more tips on how to keep your kids occupied during the COVID-19 crisis? Find our best ideas, activities and inspiration here!