More and more of us are finding ourselves homebound for extended periods of time, either on our own or with children and family. No matter what situation you find yourself in, keeping everyone engaged can be crucial for riding things out as painlessly as possible. To help make things easy for you, we have put together this guide to the many resources available to help you do just that. The majority are completely free, and many can be accessed using your library card. We will also be adding resources as anything more of note is announced, so make sure to check back if you need more recommendations!
Libby, by Overdrive
Just because the library is closed, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the latest bestsellers. We offer a wide variety of books and audiobooks by all of your favorite authors using this amazing online service. Between the new Libby app and the classic Overdrive app, it is available for most devices as well.
We also offer access to Hoopla, which may not always have the latest books, but does let you check out lots of great titles with absolutely zero waiting! In addition, this service features a wide variety of children’s books and graphic novels to help keep younger readers entertained!
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems
Every weekday at 1pm ET, renowned children’s author Mo Willems will be hosting a live-streamed event inviting readers into his studio where he will teach them how to draw, help them express their creative sides, and answer questions! If you can’t make it right at 1, these Kennedy Center sponsored events will be available for on-demand viewing afterwards as well.
Kate Messner’s Guide to Online Learning Materials
Author and former teacher Kate Messner has a great guide to the many, many resources that are available online, to help parents educate and entertain their kids while their schools are closed. These include videos of read-alouds, links to related materials, and even craft suggestions!
Celebrities Reading Children’s Books
Your local storytime might be canceled, but you can still recreate the experience with the help of some movie stars, who have been reading their favorite children’s books out loud and posting the videos online.
Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner & more: https://www.instagram.com/savewithstories/
Too many to list: https://www.storylineonline.net/
Dolly Parton: https://imaginationlibrary.com/
This service, provided by the library, allows you access to tons of great eBooks and eAudiobooks for readers in Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Andrew Luck Book Club
Help get your kids excited about reading by getting them started with this online book club! Each month 2 books are selected to accomodate 2 different reading levels, and at least 1 of the authors will be interviewed. Participants share their experiences online or just follow along with everyone else.
The Open Library is a crowd-funded ebook lending library featuring thousands of titles that you can borrow for free. In addition, you can sponsor new books that can then be added to the collection for everyone to share.
The Decameron Project
Sci-fi and fantasy authors are getting together to release one new short story or novel excerpt every day, as long as the coronavirus remains a threat. They will all be completely free, though donations are appreciated.
Normally behind a paywall, this book review publication is temporarily completely free, and an excellent tool to help you find your next great read!
Audiobook makers Playaway are hosting live children’s book read-a-longs via their Instagram account on weekends all through the month of April!
The Virtual Book Channel
The folks over at LitHub have launched this new Vimeo channel featuring a growing assortment of video content all about books.
Free Marvel Comics
Until May 4, via the Marvel Unlimited app, the company is making 12 of its most popular comics completely free. Just choose the free comics option when you boot up the app to access them.
MOVIES & TV
Fans or arthouse and international cinema can stream 10 movies per month for free with their library card using this excellent service. Additionally, to help keep us all occupied during these next few weeks, they are now offering a “credit-free” collection, which features a variety of movies you can watch that won’t count against your limit, and they are offering access to their expansive Kids section completely limit-free through the end of March as well!
Hoopla doesn’t just offer books, they also have a wide variety of movies and TV shows you can stream, including a lot of popular kids’ content!
This service is usually $5/month, but right now they are offering a very generous 30 day free trial for new sign-ups. The horror-focused streamer has a large catalog of classic movies, cult favorites, and critically-acclaimed originals, and should be a perfect distraction for anyone who enjoys being scared. Use code SHUTIN at sign-up to get the longer trial.
Creating by one of the founders of the Discovery Channel, this streaming video service features scores of documentaries that will remind viewers of the time when that channel wasn’t just more reality TV. And the best part is it’s only $20 for the whole year!
Short Films from Great Directors
IndieWire has put together this list of short movies, some of which were Oscar nominated, by renowned filmmakers that are available to stream online for free. Cineastes rejoice!
The theaters on Broadway are closed, but you can still watch recordings of many major productions online! This paid-subscription service will run you $9/month, but you can try it free for 7 days.
The long-running premium cable service (and now streamer) is offering several of its most popular shows and some movies completely free for a limited time.
NEWSPAPERS & MAGAZINES
The New York Times
The nation’s largest newspaper is offering everyone free access to its Coronavirus coverage, but as a library member, you can access the entire paper for free! Just log in using the link below and read to your hearts content for 72 hours, at which point you will have to repeat the process.
The popular nature-focused children’s magazine has announced that they will be offering all of their online content completely free of charge through the end of June. It’s a fun way to foster of love of nature in your kids and a great educational tool.
The Far Side
This long-running comic only finally made its official online debut earlier this year, but Gary Larson’s off-kilter humor feels far more essential now. A selection of old panels is selected every day, giving us all a much-needed bit of levity.
Hoopla (this is the last time)
Did you know that you can also borrow many of the latest and most popular albums to stream on Hoopla? Well now you do!
Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall
Since they won’t be performing live in the near future, the Berlin Philharmonic is allowing new users free access to their subscription streaming service through March 31. There are countless hours of concert footage available to watch, so classical music lovers will want to get started right away!
Metropolitan Opera Nightly Streams
American’s most famous opera company is offering up a new recording of one of their past shows nightly through at least March 29.
Bay Atlantic Symphony Recordings
Local favorites the Bay Atlantic Symphony have many video and audio recordings of past concerts available to stream for free on their website! Click below to enjoy some of South Jersey’s finest musicians!
NPR Guide to Live Virtual Performances
NPR has been compiling a list of every live concert being streamed online as a result of the coronavirus and arranged them by date and genre. They will be adding new shows as they find them, making this an indispensable resource for music lovers.
Cape May County Zoo Virtual Tours
Every day at 11:30am, the Cape May County Park & Zoo will be featuring clips that highlight a different animal that resides at the facility, and will also offer activities to help the kids get involved at home. The videos are available to watch on-demand as well, only through Facebook for now.
Cincinnati Zoo Home Safaris
While they’re closed, the Cincinnati Zoo is offering “Home Safaris”, which will be available on their website, Facebook, and YouTube. They will premiere daily at 3pm.
Georgia Aquarium Live Cams
The aquarium may be closed, but they are still making sure that the public can view their amazing collection of animals. The cams do shut down at night, but previous footage is shown at those times so there is always something to watch.
The National Aquarium Live Cams
Baltimore’s National Aquarium is also live-streaming their exhibits, though only during normal operating hours.
British National Theatre at Home
This legendary UK institution will be streaming plays weekly for free while they are closed.
Apple Tours the Hermitage Museum
Conceived as a way to promote the camera on the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple has a 5 hour and 19 minute video online in which they guide viewers through the entirety of Russia’s renowned Hermitage Museum in one single take. Enjoy it below.
Guide to Museums with Virtual Visits
There are actually thousands of museums offering virtual tours and exhibits right now, and website Hyperallergic has a guide featuring 12 of the best, like the Guggenheim, the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Uffizi Gallery.
Physick Estate Virtual Tour
The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts has put this virtual tour of their famous mansion up on YouTube, so you can make a quick visit to Cape May from the comfort of your own home.
Google Arts & Culture
Get virtual tours and go behind the scenes of many of the world’s most renowned museums, along with unique sites you might not otherwise have heard of.
The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks
Google has put together this incredible experience that allows you to explore some of the lesser known sights of our national parks. A truly stunning experience.
Bill Banks Photography
This professional photographer travels New Jersey, creates 360° images of historically significant spaces, and shares many of them on his Facebook page. It’s a great way to see some parts of the state you might otherwise miss.
Kew Gardens Virtual Tour
With Spring beginning, and many of us having more free time than usual, it could be the perfect time to get started with some gardening! This virtual tour of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, located on the edge of London should provide you with lots of inspiration!
National Trust for Historic Preservation Virtual Tours
This non-profit organization has a directory of dozens of sites and museums that offer virtual tours. It’s a great way to see some lesser known parts of our nation’s history.
National Garden Scheme Virtual Visits
This UK institution is getting members to record video tours of their gardens to share with the world. A great way to get inspiration for your own garden or just to relax.
New York Botanical Garden Adult Education
The NYBG is offering online versions of many of its upcoming classes starting in May. With topics about gardening (of course), painting, and other nature-related topics these are perfect for Spring. Registration and fees are required.
Scholastic Learn at Home
Broken down by grade level, this free resource features daily projects to help you keep your kids learning while they’re home from school.
Khan Academy Kids
Use this online learning institutions free apps for kids to keep your children’s brains active! They’ll have tons of fun learning useful skills!
Free Online Art Lessons
Wild, Free and Crafty is hosting online art lessons completely for free! This is a great way to help your kids express themselves and have fun while still learning.
BuzzFeed Craft Ideas
BuzzFeed has this handy list of craft ideas with links to videos and instructions on how to make them.
Harvard Online Courses
Kids aren’t the only ones who could be learning something during this time. Adults can benefit greatly from the wide variety of courses available completely for free from Harvard Universtiy.
Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Highly-regarded culinary magazine Bon Appétit has a wide variety of video content available on the YouTube channel, featuring recipes from many of the world’s most famous chefs. And who can think of a better time to try something new in the kitchen than when you have a small group of test subjects stuck in the house with you?
Daily UI Challenge
This free site features a new task every day, all designed to help you become a better graphic designer.
Take this time to organize your wardrobe with this free app. Once you scan in all your clothing, it helps you put together outfits, and tells you which clothes you aren’t using and might want to consider donating or tossing.
Yoga with Adriene
The gyms may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a good workout at home. This popular YouTube channel features lots of guided routines for all levels.
YMCA Exercise Videos
The YMCA has a host of exercise videos online to help get you moving without leaving home.
UCLA Mindful App
It’s important to take care of your mental well-being while being stuck at home. UCLA’s free mindfulness app features a variety of guided meditation exercises to help you keep calm and grounded.
This subscription mindfulness service is offering a selection of its exercises, meditations, and sleep experiences free of charge. It is geared towards New Yorkers, since their city has been hardest hit so far, but anyone can access the content.
This trivia game website is always free, but it makes for an especially great resource right now. There are countless quizzes available on the site, with new ones being added every day!
Harry Potter Digital Escape Room
The odds are that any real escape rooms near you have been temporarily closed, but you can still make your own fun at home! The Peters Township Public Library is hosting a digital Harry Potter escape room which you can take below!
Free Mobile Games Guide
PocketGamer has a list of the best free games for iPhone, iPad, and Android that they are keeping constantly updated and accurate. If you need a way to kill some time this is a great resource.
Best Free Games of 2020 for PC
The time can fly right by when you’re playing a great game, but PC gaming can be expensive. TechRadar put together this great list of the best games you can play on your computer right now, for free.
Free & Discounted Game Guide
The Verge also has a guide to some great games, this one including titles for every platform. Most are not free, but they are heavily discounted.