May 14, 2020 by Diana Urban
With schools closed around the world, kids now depend on their parents and virtual learning for their education, and many parents are splitting time between their jobs and 24/7 childcare. During this time, authors, publishers, bookstores, and libraries have been providing support in a variety of ways — from offering free educational books to creating events to keep children entertained (and give their parents some time back).
In today’s post we’re highlighting some of the ways the publishing community is helping children and their parents impacted by COVID-19. We’ve been inspired by this groundswell of bookish support — and we hope this inspires our readers who might be wondering how they can help as well.
1. Bookstores are soliciting donations from customers to give books to children
On March 23, Roxanne J. Coady, founder of RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut, posted a letter on their store website asking customers for donations to distribute books to children. This initiative would help her 70 employees keep their jobs while also aiding local families in need. “Let’s help families who are coping with unprecedented hardship have the spark of wonder, escape, and adventure,” she wrote. “Books provide the motivation to dream, to learn, and to believe. Even a small step saves someone, makes a difference, and shows our humanity to each other.” Below the letter, customers could select a donation amount in $50 increments.
4. Publishers are providing free digital content for students
Several publishers are also providing free content to help students continue their education remotely, and to enable parents, teachers, and librarians to easily get the tools they need to enable virtual learning. Lerner Publishing Group has added a section to their website to foster distance learning by providing free digital resources. According to this website, “To help enable librarians, teachers and educators helping students with remote access and online learning, a selection of our digital products are now available for free through June 30, 2020.”
7. Publishers are offering steep discounts on parenting books
Many publishers are also dropping the prices of their parenting titles to make them more accessible to readers during this challenging time. HarperCollins dropped the price of The Call of the Wild + Free, a nonfiction title on how to homeschool your kids.
9. Authors and publishers are launching virtual kidlit book festivals
Many of the season’s biggest book festivals have been canceled, but thanks to video conferencing technology, authors and publishers have started launching virtual conferences to bring panels to readers at home. Authors Ellen Oh, Christina Soontornvat, and Melanie Conklin collaborated to create Everywhere Book Fest, a virtual children’s book festival that was held May 1-2. They created a website where readers could peruse the agenda, packed with more than 50 authors and illustrators.
We Need Diverse Books has also created a helpful page of COVID-19 resources, including a section of resources specifically for parents and educators.