Global Network Covid 19 Digital Responses April 2020

Members’ Digital Responses April 2020

Reach Out & Read, USA

We have adapted in a few ways. First, we have created a page on our website: to leverage resources from other partners on how to support and engage children during this time. And how to have self-care for adults! Second, we have distributed this sheet to our provider network:  Third, we have started our own read aloud videos with medical champions and others:

Welcome Baby, Edmonton Libraries, Alberta, Canada

We are creating and providing a large array of digital content, including blogs, booklists, and videos (songs, rhyme, stories, etc.) directed at building early literacy. Our early literacy content has been the most popular of the videos we’ve posted so far. All of our EPL From Home content can be found here:, and our YouTube channel can be found here: We are working on some more blogs on how families can build literacy using objects at home etc.
In the meeting it was commented: Online we are trying to help people use objects in the home as well as books, for new words, without having to go to libraries or shops for books; on how you can read the one or two books in your house over and over again, tell a different story, use different aspects of the book. Not about e-books. We did our first facebook live baby laptime, and had 5000 unique views. 98% of our online work (or response) is early years content.

Read to Me, Nova Scotia, Canada

Read to Me is currently developing a free booklet of information for parents to get started with reading to their baby. The booklet will focus on reading to babies in the first three months. It will contain the first 3 months of our reading guide, newborn book suggestions, tips for accessing books, rhymes and activities online. The booklet will be shared digitally with families via our website and information to access it will be shared on our social media. Our staff continue to work from home and we are increasing our social media posts, giving parents book suggestions and tips on reading to their babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Global Storybooks Portal is a free online multilingual literacy resource for children and youth worldwide.  It has several African languages, and others.

Raising Literacy, South Australia

We have a number of social media channels so families and the early childhood sector can access online storytime sessions and every day play based learning and activities to do in the home or in a childcare/education setting. We post and repost our activities and those of libraries and schools who are supporting families with online activities and stories on our sites. Facebook:  Instagram:  YouTube:
We have started the production of a weekly $4 downloadable PDF activity time booklets via our publishing website
Lastly, we have over 500 FREE downloadable Learning and Activity Time sheets based our Featured Stories program where every month for 15 years we select and promote 3 stories (baby, toddler & preschool titles) to families and the early childhood sector. Each book has a learning time and activity time sheet to encourage every day play based literacy learning in the home and educational settings. The 500+ learning and activity time sheets are FREE to download anywhere in the world via our The Little Big Book Club website.
We also have a story Wilbur on our YouTube channel which has been read aloud, and a video in 14 languages, which is free to all to access.
And in the meeting it was asked: Whether we can ask our parents to read in their home language and post the stories?

Better Beginnings, Western Australia

On programs are responding to COVID-19, Better Beginnings program has adapted digitally with supportive resources and ideas for parents and carers for the early years; the State Library has implemented a Better Beginnings at Home initiative to encourage parents to read, talk, sing, write and play with their children every day. Better Beginnings is posting on Facebook daily, bringing stories, rhymes, activities and ideas for parents and educators to promote literacy with children while at home, and build home routines around literacy moments and experiences. This work supports and reinforces the initiative taken by many public libraries in Western Australia to stream their early literacy programs, including Story Time and Rhyme Time, for their local community while they are unable to attend programs in the library.

Book Dash, South Africa

Book Dash is arranging video recordings of our books by their authors, and partnering with other organisations doing similar things to re-share their resources as well. We’re adding these to our social media and Youtube channel. We have arranged for our website to be made data-free here: so that people without wifi internet can also access the books (a big problem in terms of access to resources here). There’s a big campaign here to “zero-rate” all websites with free educational resources produced by NPOs, which means they would not require any data to browse. The lockdown is only highlighting existing inequalities. This is the organisation that provides the service that makes websites data-free:, but it does cost which is why there is some lobbying to government by the campaign leaders. We had plans to create new books at a Book Dash event in May. We’re exploring how to take that online, too, and assessing the viability of hosting this on the 25th April to keep energy lifted, promote books and reading and share new content. We’ll also document the model (and how it differs from “physical” events) so that others can replicate it if they like.
About copyright: please remember that all Book Dash books are published under an open license, so anyone can use them for e.g. virtual readings, YouTube adaptations, etc. No permission needed! (Just acknowledge that the book was originally published by Book Dash). You can find them here: We have recently been contacted by SO many individuals and organisations across the globe to say that they are using our books , because of the huge need right now.

Bookstart Taiwan

Parents can find a few reading instructions, booklists and demonstration films on our website And recently we have invited a few authors to read their books online, and provide some simple activities for parents to do with children at home. We hope they can not only read, but also play something after reading. Our National Library has set up a special website for “Epidemic Prevention Time”. Parents can find free E-book, open courses and reading resources for adults and children there.

Bokstart, Swedish Arts Council

In Sweden we have digital platforms with Children books who are open right now for families and preschool with Children books translated to up to 50 different languages. Libraries also have lots of e-books in different languages for free. Also digital storytelling sessions in different languages from lots of libraries. And we have Learning platform for public libraries there we can learn more as professions around digital solutions.
In the meeting it as added: There is no lockdown, but a digital platform with books in 50 languages has opened up and at the moment is free. And Mantra Lingua is opening up. And libraries have opened their ebooks for free, and all libraries are on a national platform, and is a huge success; and inviting teachers to tell stories in different languages. And also lots of outdoor activities.

German Reading Foundation/ Stiftung Lesen, Germany

The Corona virus is a challenge for all of us in various ways – but particularly for parents working from home and their children. Therefore, we at the German Reading Foundation have started a reading and reading aloud service for families across Germany called ‘reading and reading aloud in times of Corona’ offering among others for free: digital reading aloud stories and books ; reading and reading aloud apps; book recommendations and tips; handcraft and daily tips for children and families; reading aloud stories for the very young ones, starting at the age of 1; information and tips for teachers for all school types and ages. All of this can be found in German at:
We are really busy in Stiftung Lesen because we are collecting digital ideas and offers we can serve for families and others in these difficult times. We cooperate with different ministries and we have published some materials here: And on our Lesestart-Website we collect ideas for parents with young children:

Dutch Reading Foundation/ Stichting Lezen, Netherlands

In order to help professionals and parents we have published a web page that guides them to online initiatives that can be of help in online reading promotion, see (google translate will help you understand it). We have published initiatives of a wide range of organisations, not only our own initiatives.
Some of our partners launched an online and offline campaign #ikleesthuis (which translates to #ireadathome): Our childrens laureate takes part in the campaign by adding a challenge: children are challenged to post a picture of themselves reading, combined with the hashtag. Participants can win books.
On we have made a list of free reading activities for your baby, toddler or preschool child. We make videos with reading tips but we do not want to overfeed parents with activities! Besides the things we do for parents and children we open learnings for professionals for free.
We have a reading aloud campaign for grandparents to read to grandchildren at a distance/online, with ambassadors promoting it on videos, showing how they share with their grandchildren online.

Boekstart Flanders, Iedereen Leest, Belgium

Since Boekstart in Flanders is really for the very strict age of 0 – 2,5 years old, we are not very keen on digital initiatives… Belgium went in lockdown on the 13th of March, which was in the middle of the Children’s Book Month, one of our biggest campaigns. All schools and libraries were closed, so a lot of the physical activities (workshops, readings, lectures) were cancelled. Iedereen Leest made a Youtube Channel because a lot of activities were planned and cancelled, but we tried to organise it only through the youtube channel. Authors and illustrators (who suddenly had a completely empty agenda) posted reading aloud movies, small workshops, reading or painting tips etc. It was quite a success and got a lot of media attention. Our Queen Mathilde also joined and made a reading aloud video! Of the writers and illustrators’ ‘read aloud movies’ with their favourite books, a few are also for the very young ones…
We try to grasp the moment to promote reading even more, because schools are closed and a lot of children have little to do, so reading is an excellent activity. Some publishers opened up their online audio books for free, we made an article about how bookshops and libraries coped with the lockdown. A lot of them offered take away of delivery. So we wanted to inform and inspire the reader.
We had to cancel our Bookstart-day and an event of the Children’s Book Jury, and are looking for digital alternatives. Also for the months to come, we will try to have a plan A and B for every ‘physical’ event and we try to focus on alternatives. But we were lucky not having to cancel really big events, like our conference on reading for pleasure in February (500 attendants).
A lot of initiatives were taken to focus even more on reading during lockdown, so we hope this will have a lasting impact. On the other hand, due to the closing of the schools, a lot of reading activities were interrupted, so we are now thinking about a summer reading campaign (in the libraries), to try to close that gap a little bit.
We are also of course discovering and trying out the possibilities of online meetings, webinars etc. This might have an effect on how we work in the future (e.g., less real life seminars or gatherings). But we hope the physical aspect (e.g. authors going schools for a lecture, illustrators having a workshop) will be possible again in the near future, because that ‘real’ contact still is important.

Buchstart Österreich/Bookstart Austria

Up to now we believe that personal contact is irreplaceable. Our trials to reach parents by webinars were more or less disappointing. So we focus on using the internet for information, public relations, artistic expression …:
For members of our organisation and all the partners (in Austria or abroad) the online material are free to use, adapt … Mio with the mask is already available in the bookstart gallery:
We have good experiences in providing our member libraries all our materials (texts, pictures, videos) for their own local bookstart adaptations. Now, in times of Corona, we are in consideration to provide all our materials for public use and put it under a creative commons license (CC BY-NC – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License).

Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder und Jugendmedien SIKJM, Switzerland

Both Bibliomedia and SIKJM have shared online sources for families, teachers and others on their website. We attached particular importance to audibles, Swiss editors and their offers (as the whole spring production is in danger), easy creative stuff and open digital sources.  The 3rd Swiss Reading Aloud Day 2020 will take place on 27 May with a strong focus on the family situation. All public events will not take place. Some of our ambassadors will read online, schools will be able to read in their classes (as school starts today 11 May for all from kindergarden to grade 9).

National Literacy Agency, Malta

The Agency is providing live reading sessions on its facebook pages to encourage parents to read aloud to their young children and older children to read.

Lukukeskus, The Finnish Reading Centre, Finland

All our materials have been offered also in digital format from the beginning. At the moment we are developing our multilingual materials, so far we’ve had materials in 9 languages, soon it will be 15. Also we have edited the materials based on our experiences after the first year running the program. We also have info videos and more “emotional” videos which have been widely liked and shared in social media especially now.
This exceptional time also gives us an opportunity to remind families about the importance of reading and how reading together can help a child to cope in a changed or in a crisis situation. This point of view has been interesting also for media, we’ve been on the news and print with our program during these last weeks.
One of the most important activities of the Finnish Reading Center (FRC) has been nearly driven down during this spring. The author visits have practically been cancelled after Corona-crisis hit Finland in the beginning of March. Altogether 400 author visits were cancelled and new ones were not ordered even for the autumn due to the uncertain situation.
We had to invent compensating activity at a fast pace. Fortunately, we had already tested virtual author visits before but only when all the audience is in the same location. The concept had to be modified for the situation where every single attendant participates remotely. We applied and got a grant from a private foundation so that we could pilot the new version. By the end of April, we were able to organize revised virtual author visits and by now we have already made 50. All the clients (mostly schools) are satisfied and FRC has got a lot of positive feedback and publicity. This YouTube video is about the piece of news on a national tv-channel about how we transformed our regular author visits into virtual one. Subtitles in English can be activated from Cc.
At the end of April, the FRC conducted an annual nationwide reading campaign The Reading Week. The theme of the week varies every year and this time it was as if anticipating the current situation Creativity in the air. Creativity was highly needed when transforming all the activities into virtual. However, our stakeholders and the audience were actively participating and eventually the campaign turned out to be successful.
This exceptional time also gives us an opportunity to remind families about the importance of reading and how reading together can help a child to cope in a changed situation. As mentioned above, this point of view has been interesting also for media. FRC has been on the news and print with our program during these last weeks.
Relating to the book gift programme, we carried out a survey to find out changes in the families reading habits in Finland during the crisis. Our survey on reading during Covid has recently been published and we’ve been giving interviews on radio and TV news. Finland’s National Broadcasting Company released the news also in English
In addition, the writers are activated to perform their own content like stories and poetry on the net.

Social campaign ‘Small Book:Great Man’, Polish Book Institute, Poland

Digital response: We published a lot of new materials (articles, videos, games for children) on our website (https://www.wielki-czlowiek) and social media canals, to try to animate parents using our Facebook group and suggest to them how to spend time creatively with books. We also prepared for our readers a list of on-line resources where they can find free e-books or audiobooks. Now a lot of state/non-profit/commercial institutions promote reading in coronavirus time – we try to cooperate, share our materials/activities and support especially libraries (our main partners).

Children’s Books Ireland

Bookshops and libraries are closed, as are schools, with various phased reopenings proposed depending on the infection rates and whether the curve remains flat. We are concerned about access to books and reading for families who do not have any/many books in the home. Festivals have been cancelled throughout the summer and our authors and illustrators, who rely heavily on events in schools, libraries and festivals to earn a living, have felt a huge negative effect. Around 40% of bookshops are closed for all business and the remainder partially open – mainly doing mail order – and trading at an average of 20% of what their normal turnover would be. Ireland’s print sales have seen a 29% decline in value over the period the country has been in lockdown compared to the same period in 2019, according to Nielsen BookScan data. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the closure of shops on 24th March and, from then to the week ending 2nd May, Irish physical book sales dropped 27% in volume through BookScan’s Irish Consumer Market (ICM) and declined in value from €11.4m earned across the same period in 2019 to €8.1m. Children’s was the least affected of the main categories, though still fell by 25% in value to €2.07m euros. Yet with children being home schooled, a few categories have done well: Reference and Home Learning’s value rose 56%. Though Children’s Fiction dropped 28% (to just under €904,000) against 2019, it was still the second-most valuable category across the market.

• We ran online training for authors and illustrators to record video of themselves at home. We are developing a factsheet and commissioning a recorded training video for wider dissemination to artists who will now be expected to do more of this type of work.
• In place of school visits, which was a significant part of our work, we commissioned videos which variously include readings, some chat about the book and activities, and advance question and answer sessions:
• We are also programming live Zoom visits between artists and schools.
• We are producing a virtual ceremony for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards which will be broadcast as live on our YouTube on 19th May.
• We have cancelled the announcement of Ireland’s sixth Laureate na nÓg/Children’s Laureate; this will now be a media release only, with project planning taking place remotely. Our outgoing Laureate’s final event was on Instagram live (instead of in a theatre).
• We worked with An Post, our national postal service, to publish the ImagineNation activity booklet, which was delivered to over 200,000 homes in Ireland, including direct provision centres for refugees and emergency accommodation for families experiencing homelessness, via An Post and The Irish Times (national newspaper), and featured just under 30 of our best authors and illustrators. This is available to download free of charge from our website
• We formed a partnership with parenting website Family Friendly HQ to encourage families to share a story together while staying apart – short video here .
• We have worked on gathering the vast array of creative resources for children available online and collating lists of Boredom Busters on our Instagram stories.
• We have also commissioned one of our Book Doctors to do a number of online ‘book clinics’ with reading recommendations for children of all ages – these are on our Instagram channel.
• We have put together a resource written by a Champion of Reading for one of our school library projects. Juliette Saumande has written the ‘The Any-Book Book Club’ guide, with activities that children can do with any book they have at home.
• We have published and mailed the April issue of our Inis magazine and have been working on the July issue which will be published online. This requires a whole new way of working with digital proofs, permissions etc.

People may be more inclined to read eBooks and audiobooks, and libraries will become more relevant and popular. The public libraries BorrowBox app for audio and ebooks has been hugely popular: The number of users registering to use it jumped to almost 18,000 people in the first month of lockdown, a four-fold increase on pre-lockdown numbers. The number of monthly loans also doubled to 120,000 between January and March of this year.

Scottish Book Trust

This is a link to our resource to support librarians and early years professionals and volunteers to deliver Bookbug Sessions (30 minute story, song and rhyme sessions) online. Website:
Facebook:    Twitter:
Scottish Book Trust has launched a home activities hub pulling together our digital resources to support families who are spending lots of time at home with their children. This includes book sharing tips, author events to watch online, videos of families reading together, book recommendations and themed Bookbug Sessions for parents and carers to do at home with their children.
The Bookbug app is very well placed to support families and we have seen increased levels of engagement since national lockdown. It’s only available in the UK from app stores but we believe the Android version is open source so may be available outside the UK on Android devices. We have a schedule of new content and developments lined up to ensure that the app remains fresh and relevant, and functions well. This includes addition of 4 new playlists featuring songs, rhymes and instrumental music. We are also introducing adaptive streaming to our app to improve the viewing/listening experience for users on slower broadband or limited data contracts.

All Bookbug Sessions (story, song and rhyme sessions) in libraries and other community venues have been temporarily suspended. We have been greatly encouraged by the efforts of our partners in libraries to share Bookbug Sessions online for their regular families. We have created a resource to support best practice and intend to run a webinar on this topic. We will shortly launch a Scottish Book Trust led weekly Bookbug Session on Facebook Live in addition to the local online activities. All face to face training and shared practice sessions have been cancelled or postponed, but online training in the form of webinars is still going ahead. We are expanding our webinar offer to include some ‘hot topics’ e.g. We are in the process of trialling conversation of one of our training courses to online platforms.
We are moving our annual Bookbug Week celebrations online in the form of a digital festival 18th-24th May. This will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bookbug programme and will feature:
– A daily drawalong with author/illustrator Debi Gliori (Bookbug’s creator)
– An exclusive new song for the Bookbug app created by Sprog Rock and a group of nursery children
– A special celebratory Bookbug Session for families to try at home themselves and a live Bookbug Session on Bookbug’s facebook page for everyone to join in with on Friday 22 at 10am.

And in the meeting it was added: Library-based storytimes are closed so we have a resource that supports this online. We are suggesting platforms, such as zoom or facebook live; reminders on copyright permissions for certain books and publishers – with booklists. There is good feedback; sessions have had 9000 views. And closed groups run by family support workers. And promoting bookbug book videos of shared reading. And our app from last year is getting renewed attention, some 10,000 active users per month. And we are looking at moving budget to focus on book sharing for the app, alongside the previous focus of helping families find rhymetimes, And allowing streaming, to help with data contracts at home.

BookTrust UK

We are making the most of our digital channels. We have launched, with Cressida Cowell the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, a new digital hub, BookTrust Hometime which offers carefully curated content, refreshed every day from a wide range of brilliant authors and illustrators. We have also joined with Scottish Book Trust, Coram Beanstalk and Authorfy on #unitedbybooks
We are turning Pyjamarama into a home-based, digitally delivered ‘day of pyjamas and books’: the fundraising message lower key, hoping to capture families’ imaginations and create a wonderful day that brings communities and families together digitally. An online reading festival featuring the nation’s most loved authors and illustrators We have brought the day forward to 1 May, and are talking to publishers, schools, local authorities and others about how we can involve them in our exciting plans. A day in PJs to celebrate bedtime stories and reading; come together with families across the country for a day of story-filled fun/bringing the nation together through stories; sign up now for downloadable activities and inspiration.
Multilingual resources:!?q=&sortOption=AtoZ&pageNo=1
Interactive story books on the HomeTime hub:
Lulu Loves Stories has multiple language options:
And as part of Home Time, we have pulled together a page of what authors and illustrators are doing on their own sites and social media
0-5 ages: Julia Donaldson – writer, The Gruffalo etc etc; Ed Vere – illustrator , How to be a Lion, Max The Brave; Sarah McIntyre – Illustrator; Dapo Adeola – illustrator, Look up; Emily Gravett – illustrator and writer; Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet – author and illustrator (Supertato, Cake -and other masterpieces!)

We are concerned about supporting families who are not native speakers – we have lots of story telling from authors online – but only in English! This is a limitation in digital if the resources in the UK are all in English, and non-native speakers are excluded. Can we share storytimes in different languages. How are others coping with this? And we wonder if another way we could help each other is to share digital tools to post on our respective websites etc. We are currently working to increase the range of reading support activities (video, quizzes, printables) on our website. It would be great to include some tools from other languages on BookTrust UK’s website! We have lots in English… And on the question of digital or face-to-face – it would be important to monitor how many people access links digitally – and if possible to map that with socio-economic data. We think modelling, showing parents how to share books in person, is most important for parents with less confidence in reading and they are less likely to access guidance etc via QR codes.
We are also considering gifting books to grandparents, or separated fathers, and then support a virtual reading between grandparent and child (probably age 2 upwards).