Bored Kids? Let the Library Lend a Hand

A version of piece was orginally featured on In Kansas City.

From Crystal Faris, Director of Youth & Family Engagement (YFE) for the Kansas City Public Library

Bored kid graphic
Through her fearless Harry Potter heroine, Hermione Granger, author J.K. Rowling famously (and wisely) advised: 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 longtime youth librarian, I still suggest going to the library -- the digital library. It's always open and, in the Kansas City metro area, you can access four large library systems. Pull out your dependable library card or apply for one online to take advantage of all we have to offer.

At Kansas City Public Library, visit our Digital Branch. There , you'll find some of my online faves, including hoopla, where you can browse movies, music, television shows, eBooks, digital audiobooks, and comic books. There are no wait times; just check out and dive in.  The site features 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 (or Kanopy for parents). For eBooks, be sure to explore Bookflix, which pairs Scholastic Books with creative animated film shorts based on great children’s titles.

For something slightly different, head to our Library Facebook page 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 popular Dial-a-Story. By phone, call 816-701-3456 and listen to a librarian read you a terrific book. There’s a new story every day. Or you can listen online.

Dial-A-Story graphic

Library staff encourages you to explore further online. 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 launched by librarians this week as a place to share these online happenings for children. Feel free to join the group as a parent or caregiver.

Remember that play is learning. Parents needn't try to fill every minute of every day with structured learning for their children while trying to remain productive themselves. Play can relieve us all of stress. 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 great local museums, including the Nelson-Atkins and the Kemper, on Google Arts & Culture. See a favorite piece of art? Try creating something in a similar style with your child and share why you like it. Ask your child to share his or her favorite.


  • Did you excel at math story problems? Make up some of your own. Solve them on paper. Act them out. Laugh.


  • Maybe you won a spelling bee in elementary school. Use Scrabble tiles to make words or create your own paper letter tiles. Make up a six-word story incorporating the word you made. It can be funny or silly or sad ... or just 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, decorating 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. (Here's a list of some of our favorites!)


Online Storytimes and activities

  In response to the stay-at-home practices currently in place, the Library began hosting Facebook Live storytimes at 10:30 a.m. each day with some of your favorite children’s librarians.  Each storytime will include several books, songs, and/or fingerplays, and an early literacy tip. We hope to continue these offerings on the following schedule:

► Monday – Elizabeth at the Central Library
► Tuesday – Lauren at the Bluford Branch
► Wednesday – Julia at the Plaza Branch
► Thursday – Clare at the Central Library
► Friday – Kristan at the Central Library
► Saturday – Alli at the Central Library (Yoga Storytime)
► Sunday – Molly at Central

View All Storytimes
Or watch online at >

In our new Make. Do. Tell. series, youth can learn how to draw comics, get tips on how to develop and create their own stories, or explore STEM learning activities. Check out the upcoming sessions online.

All Make. Do. Tell. events


Image of Facebook Live storytime