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Lockdown inspires Tallinn city librarians to read ‘remotely’ to children

The coronavirus lockdown is inspiring educators to come up with new ways to keep children’s minds fit and active – none more so than city librarians in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

While public libraries were among the first municipal buildings to be shut down – not just in Estonia but across the world – to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many have been making their digital collections more readily available for children.

But the librarians in Tallinn have gone further by reading books to youngsters over the phone, Skype and Facebook. Between 10am and 4pm, they offer this free service to children, who can even choose which books they want to ‘read’, reports

Solidarity with parents worldwide

Each reading session lasts for up to half an hour, and so even if the allocated time runs out at an exciting stage of the book, the child can simply call the following day and continue where they left off. If the reading takes place in the form of a video call, the reader will also show pictures from the book.

The service is gradually being made available to readers from across the country, and officials in Tallinn say that this initiative, as well as demonstrating its solidarity with parents worldwide, also shows how Estonia is blazing a trail in terms of digital and remote public services.

Vadim Belobrovtsev, deputy mayor of Tallinn, said: “The library wants to provide support for parents who work in their home office and want to find educational and engaging activities for their children… The child can choose the book that suits him and the librarian reads it to him. However, if the child wants, he or she can practice reading by reading aloud. This way, the child’s interests and needs can be respected and the reading experience will be special to the child.

Inspiring examples

Estonia has declared a state of emergency until the beginning of May, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the measures the City Council of Tallinn has already put in place is the exemption of parents from paying taxes for municipal kindergartens.

Do you know of any inspiring examples of how cities and educators are helping children and young people during the coronavirus lockdown? Please email and we will feature as many as we can.

Author: Simon Weedy

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