Online Library Resources for Kids

As you may have noticed over the last several weeks, Thunder Bay Public Library has a myriad of online resources available to our community.  A lot of them are geared to adults and teens, but we do have a core set which are for children.  While it’s tempting to draw a hard line between those which are informational/educational and those which are recreational, I consider that a disservice to kids.  What they find of recreational interest may be something adults or teens might think of as being educational.  So let’s encourage their curiosity about all things and stoke their imaginations with stories.

When you visit our website to access our Kids’ databases, start by clicking on the Research tab, then Research on the left menu, and log  in to My Giant Search. Then you can select “Search by Subject” and click on “Kids”.  Once you’re in the Kids list it’s a much shorter menu with databases which not only have age appropriate content, but are also designed with kids in mind.  To that end, they rely heavily on images and graphics to help kids navigate the resources.  So, what kinds of things can you find?  Let’s dive in!

tumblbook logoTumbleBooks is one of those things that you may not realize you need until you need it.  Have you read the same picture book eleven-billion times and are losing your sanity along with your voice?  TumbleBooks will come to your rescue!  While nothing can replace reading to your kids, it allows you to put supper on and perhaps find some new favourites.  The story books are professionally narrated, and words are highlighted as the narrator reads to add a literacy component.  If you have a struggling reader in the house, read-alongs are a fantastic choice.  They’re similar to the story books, but are chapter books and so may be more age appropriate.  There are also graphic novels, eBooks, non-fiction, and language learning categories.  It’s an incredibly rich source of reading while physical books are harder to come by and they are all free!

Are you working on a school project or being asked why some bees make honey and others don’t?  Kids InfoBits and Encyclopedia Britannica are perfect choices!  Both have great information on so many topics provided at an age appropriate level.  The format of each is a little different and well worth exploring.  

Kids InfoBits focuses on providing  information for kindergarten to grade 5.  It’s easy to start searching by clicking on images of topics of interest.  So, if you have an interest in plants you can select that image and the next menu will provide a narrower list of resources.  There’s also a search bar at the top of all pages if your child knows exactly what they want.  Sources include books, magazines, and news articles.  Some of them are available as audio files, so they can listen and read along.  

Encyclopedia Britannica has both a children and young adults section.  It’s aimed more towards the higher elementary grades or with parent involvement, as you have to know what you’re searching for at the beginning. Enter your search term into the Children, Young Adults, or Reference search box.  In your search results you can toggle between the results for levels 1, 2, and 3.  There is a wealth of information, and in addition to articles there are images, videos, and recommended websites for more information.

To round out the Kids research section we have Explora.  It has many of the same types of features as the other two informational resources, but it is important to note that they are all pulling material from different sources.  By searching all three you’ll be able to get a wider variety of information on the topic.  One fun feature of Explora is that there is a highlight reel of interesting topics at the top of the search page which may inspire you to delve in deeper.  As I write this I’m thinking about reading up on ravens!

Kids InfoBits, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Explora all offer a citation tool to ensure that if this is for a school assignment you can be sure to provide the right information for your teacher!  

Beyond the resources we’ve explored here, there are also some general databases geared towards children.  I encourage you to explore Transparent Language which makes language learning fun and Naxos Music Library for a wide variety of playlists.  All are available for free with your Thunder Bay Public Library card.

TumbleMathLogoWe also have some special extra resources for children during our building closures. Check out Cricket ebooks, Summa Kids’ videos for educational Canadian content, or Tumblebook Math for a limited time by visiting our online stuff page.

Whether you need a new e-Book to read or want to delve into some research, fun or learning, we’re still here for you.  If you need a library card or are having trouble accessing your account, please email us at and we’ll help you out.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you

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