Shake your sillies out…at home!

With online storytime & babytime from the OPL

By Robin Gallagher

Are you home all day with small children who would normally be at daycare or school? Are you missing your regular library storytime? You will be happy to hear that the Ottawa Public Library is offering online storytimes through Zoom. They’re about 15 minutes long, they’re interactive and fun. I’ve been participating with my children, who are two and four. They sing and clap along, they answer questions and they are completely rapt – just as they are during an in-branch storytime.

You don’t need a library card to enjoy these storytimes. Just click on the link on our website ( and then hit “join” on the time and day of the program. The OPL is offering storytime programs in English, French and bilingual. We are also offering online babytime programs with rhymes, songs, fingerplays and tickles for babies and their parents or caregivers.

While you do not need a library card to join these sessions, Ottawa residents can now create a temporary card online that will provide immediate access to all our online resources. Everyone who didn’t have a card when branches closed can now have access to our digital content, and OPL has a tonne of it. We have e-books and audiobooks for children and adults, both downloadable and streaming. We also have digital or streaming versions of movies, music, magazines, newspapers, language-learning databases and so much more. Be sure to check out our new Isolation Recreation page for more resources, including lots of ideas about what do while you stay home!

Robin Gallagher is a librarian at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library, where she works primarily with children and teens. When Robin is not working, you can find her reading (to herself or to her kids), walking her dog (while maintaining social distance), sewing (face masks) or making music (alone, but with the windows open).

Reading in the time of COVID-19

Recommendations from the staff at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library

The good news is that reading requires no physical closeness while deeply connecting us with one another. In challenging times, few things are better than escaping with a good book. Whether you’re diving into the lives of a cast of characters completely different from you, finding solace in knowing that others have walked roads as challenging or feeling joy in learning new ideas, reading brings us comfort and hope. Staff at the Sunnyside library have compiled a list of some of the best books we’ve read during this pandemic shutdown. Since the library is currently closed, these recommendations are from our own bookshelves or  are downloadable e-books or audiobooks accessible on the Ottawa Public Library’s website: We are looking forward to when we can all come together again at the library. Until then, take good care of yourself and the ones you love – and happy reading!

All Things Consoled
by Elizabeth Hay
Elizabeth Hay’s All Things Consoled is an eloquently written memoir of her relationship with her aging parents and their descent into dementia. Neighbourhood readers will recognize Old Ottawa South and Glebe locations throughout the book. This award-winning and poignant read is an exploration of family dynamics, miscommunications and sibling rivalry that will be very relatable for many readers. – Sue

The Vanished Birds
by Simon Jimenez
A beautifully written novel about travelling through space and time, and a mysterious boy who lands in the care of a reclusive woman. Their bond changes both of their lives as they travel throughout the galaxy on dangerous missions. An excellent, brand-new novel that’s perfect if you want to escape from reality to experience other planets and civilizations. – Barb

The Stranger Inside
by Lisa Unger
When Rain, Tess and Hank were 12 years old, they had the misfortune of running into Kreskey and his dog walking through the woods. That day changed their lives. Kreskey went to jail but when he was released, someone killed him in cold blood. Rain, now a stay-at-home mom who had buried her childhood nightmare, is forced to revisit the past – is there a vigilante? Lisa Unger tells a compelling story of both victim and perpetrator and what violence can do to your mind. – Sylvie

Zoey and Sassafras
by Asia Citro
My daughter loves every book in this series, and we have read them all many times. Each book includes a basic scientific concept as Zoey uses science to help magical creatures that live in the forest. The science is solid, and the series underlines how to use the scientific method, but the books are also a fun read. You can read and enjoy, or you can use them as inspiration for your own science experiments at home. Asia Citro has made the first Zoey and Sassafras e-book free to download during library and school closures due to COVID-19. The author also has a fantastic blog ( – Robin

Song for a Whale
by Lynne Kelly
Twelve-year-old Iris buys and repairs radios for fun. Interestingly, Iris cannot hear them because she is deaf.  One day her teacher presents the story of Blue55, a whale that is all alone because the song he sings is different from other whales. Iris wonders if Blue55 is deaf like her. She sets out to create a song for Blue55 to show him that he is not alone. – Christina

Milk and Honey
by Rupi Kaur
I’m fortunate to have read several excellent books recently (some recommended by others in this article). One book I often reread is Milk and Honey, a book of poetry both heartbreaking and hopeful from critically acclaimed Canadian writer Rupi Kaur. – Kelly

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean
The Library Book, by New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, is an exploration of libraries and librarians around the world, with a focus on the tragic 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. For all of us missing our public library, this is a reminder of the importance of libraries and librarians to the social fabric of a community. – Sue

Empire of Wild
by Cherie Dimaline
The author of The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline, writes her first adult horror novel inspired by the traditional Métis stories of the Rogarou, a werewolf that haunts Métis communities. A dark but entertaining book with lively characters and a gripping plot about a woman trying to find her missing husband that may have been attacked by a Rogarou. – Barb

The Boy at the Back of the Class
by Onjali Q Raúf
This is a children’s chapter book with no pictures. I found it a keep-going read – I wanted to find out what would happen next. The story is written from the viewpoint of a child in grade school when a new student comes to class. I don’t want to say too much because there are several surprises! – Jennifer

 Zoom at Sea, Zoom Away & Zoom Upstream
by Tim Wynne-Jones
At our house, we are taking a break from Zoom meetings to read about Zoom the cat! My kids love the Zoom trilogy – three picture books about a cat who goes on improbable and beautiful adventures as his friend Maria’s house turns into the sea, Egypt and the North Pole. They’re gorgeously illustrated by Eric Beddows. Bonus: This is a Canadian classic. – Robin

Planet Earth Is Blue
by Nicole Panteleakos
Nova is a 12-year-old non-verbal girl with autism spectrum disorder. She is obsessed with the launch of the Challenger rocket (1986), where her sister has gone and trying to fit in with her new foster family. It is a beautifully told story of finding home and of being seen for who we are and who we can become. – Christina

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