Reading for fun can help us through these challenging times

Coronavirus is creating uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. At Read for Good, we are all parents with our own worries about our children, their schooling, about our wider families and about how this will impact our charity.

At this moment in our society, reading for pleasure, sharing stories, being able to escape our four walls through the pages of a book could be more important than ever. Reading can help with our mental health and well-being: reading for just 6 minutes has been shown to reduce stress levels by 68%. But more than that, taking time to share stories, losing ourselves in a book, travelling the high seas or the Milky Way from the comfort of a sofa might just be the tonic we all need.

Here’s a list of suggestions for parents and teachers, ideas and links that we hope will provide some inspiration for reading for fun at home.

Fond memories of Jackanory? You’ll love these!

J.K. Rowling and Audible have made Stephen Fry’s compelling narration of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone freely available. Nearly ten hours or pure listening joy! And check out all things Potter at Wizarding World.

The brilliant author-illustrator Tom Percival reads a chapter from Attack of the Heebie Jeebies every day. It’s the most delightful way for to get caught up in a great story! Thanks Tom, and publisher Macmillan, for sharing!

The kind folk at Bloomsbury publishers have made Radio 1’s Greg James and Chris Smith’s audio version of Kid Normal available free on Audible. As the book says, you don’t need superpowers to be a hero!

The irrepressible David Walliams reads his books for elevenses, and there’s lots more to be found on his jam-packed website. Have a dig around – there’s lot of fun to be had!

Rob Biddulph has the most captivating series of videos for budding illustrators – it’s a brilliantly simple drawing class to help you unleash your creative characters. Perfect for all ages!

Audible have made a whole range of books available to listen to for free. Perfect if you’re not feeling well and great for struggling and reluctant readers.

Catch up on this year’s Hay Festival Digital on their Hay Player. Check out their free schools’ programme – there’s something to suit everyone.

Enjoy the company of Chris Hemsworth, Meryl Streep , Eddie Redmayne and more reading Roald Dahl’s James and Giant Peach – it’s truly unique!

Ulverscroft Digital have made over 200 children’s audio books freely available – just register to enjoy!


Listen to Michael Morpurgo reading some of his beautifully illustrated picture books on Storytime at the Barn.


Watch and listen to Cressida Cowell reading books from her How to Train your Dragon series.



Join Julia Donaldson in the deep dark wood for this special performance of The Gruffalo!

Reading top tips and resources

BBC Schools website has some great audio stories freely available to listen to at home, for preschool and primary age children. You can also read along with their transcriptions.
Got a footballer stuck at home? Never fear, football school is here! Walker Books brings you Ben and Alex to explain the world through football. No, really!

Toppsta is a top kids’ book review site. If your child isn’t used to choosing what to read, or they’re looking for new inspiration, let them loose on Toppsta!

Listening Books
Listening Books has a library of 8,000 audiobooks. Membership is £20 for children with an illness or condition that impacts their ability to read the printed word (e.g. dyslexia).

BBC Sounds has a great children’s section for all key stages. You’ll need an account, but it’s free to set up. Search for Dramas and listen together.

Lots of kids love Manga comic strip books and you’ll find apps like this one that let you read them online free of charge.

Twinkl is a fabulous teacher-created resource site with a parents’ hub. It has Home Learning Resources for school closures and a free month’s subscription offer for teachers.

Get creative with your reading – whether it’s a recipe, or a board game, song lyrics or a treasure hunt around the house or garden – reading for fun comes in all sorts of ways.


Oxford Owl has free ebooks online, especially good for younger children. Why not see what your child would choose to read?


There are some great trial subscription offers for magazines like The Phoenix, First News or The Week Junior which you can get sent straight to your door.
Lovers of non-fiction can have a field day on great websites like National Geographic Kids or the fantastic Guinness World of Records – great ways to read loads of fantastic facts.
BookTrust have some great online resources, including younger age books you can read online. Get your child to read to a younger sibling, your pet or even to grandparents over the phone!

Reading activities

There are loads of different things and ways you can read – and have fun doing it. Check out our Inspiring Ideas page, which was created for schools, but nearly all of these ideas can work as well at home.
Storyteller Steve Lally with patient
Do your own sponsored read at home – download a form or set up your own fundraiser and help us help children in hospital at a time when they need books and stories more than ever.
Discover what YOU like to read with our Reading Challenge – it’s just for fun, or you could use it to fundraise for us to get books to children in hospital. You could even run a challenge between households or friends and see who wins!

There are some great books being televised from Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Catch up on a box set and compare it to the books!
Kids love to read when they read what they love! We’ve put together reading for fun ideas that might make you think twice about what reading actually is – it’s not just about books!
Have fun! Check out our kids page for other ideas and make sure to have a go at our unique STORYMAKER game – you’ll be a 30-second author!

We’d love to hear any ideas or top tips you have – email lucy@readforgood.org.

Update 09.06.2020: You may be concerned about the current situation and how this may affect your ability to register and run Readathon. We would like to reassure you that at present there are currently no disruptions to our kit deliveries, with kits reaching you 3-5 working days after ordering. Readathon can still take place at home, and can be part of your ‘Home Learning Pack’, and friends and family can make their sponsorship donations online. 

If you have any further questions, please email reading@readforgood.org or call us on 01453 839005.

Please note, we are not responsible for the suitability and content of any external website.