Introducing Cabin Fever Kids
When COVID-19 first struck, closing schools and workplaces and keeping so many of us at home, Humanities Washington created Cabin Fever Kids, a digital project inspired by our Prime Time Family Reading program. One to two times per week, people across the state would receive a link to a reading of a beloved children’s book in their inbox, along with open-ended questions about the story for children, parents, and teachers to discuss—questions rooted in philosophy, critical thinking, sociology, psychology, and other disciplines.
With schools across the state still closed, and a future that remains uncertain, we decided to compile our Cabin Fever Kids project into a single digital book. Each story’s questions are printable as one double-sided sheet (because we could all use less screen time right now). We hope that parents, teachers, and families can make use of it as part of remote learning, home learning, or even bedtime reading. Even adults without children might be inspired—after all, diving beneath the surface of a book’s ideas is something we can all do to enrich our experience of reading.
What is Prime Time Family Reading?
It begins as a typical library storytime, and for some children, their first trip to the library. Families are seated in a big circle, some talking, laughing, and jostling for the best view, some quiet and introspective. The storyteller opens the book and reads to the crowd. But after the story ends, that’s when things get interesting.
“Who gets to decide what a person can and cannot do?,” asks an adult, called the “scholar,” seated next to the storyteller. “Is that fair? Why or why not? How do you know?” The kids begin responding to the scholar’s questions. Children and adults reference choices made by the characters in the book and compare them with the choices they’ve made themselves. The whole group starts to explore how they might apply those choices and ideas to their own lives, their families’ lives, and even society itself. Families, often for the first time, experience reading together and discussing big ideas, sharing their experiences and personal wisdom with others. Stories leap from pages of books and become conversations—conversations that are alive and evolving.
To watch a session of Prime Time Family Reading is to realize not only that we are all philosophers, sages, and intellectuals, but that we have been so from early in our lives. The Humanities Washington program, which takes place at dozens of libraries around the state each year and serves hundreds of families, takes a deeper look at the humanities content in children’s literature, encouraging stronger engagement with ideas in books and igniting a lifelong interest in reading and learning.
Check out more about Prime Time Family Reading on the program page here.