Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

This year has been a year like no other. From pestilence to major political unrest, 2020 continues to stress us and stretch us beyond our limits. The teachers working at home and in the classroom are feeling it. And if we’re feeling it, you can bet our students, many of whom are trapped at home with the internet scaring them all day, are suffering too. Because of the uniqueness of this year, specific 2020 resources are needed to help students navigate all that is happening.

This might seem like a serious problem, and it is. But it’s also an opportunity, a chance to design curriculum and lessons that students will be passionate about. Here’s a list of 32 resources, including TED Talks, books, and more, that you can use to harness student interest and keep your lessons relevant this year.

Just so you know, we may get a small share of the sales made through the Amazon affiliate links on this book section.

Relevant 2020 Resources for Election Season

TED Talks

1. “How to Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground” by Julia Dhar

In this inspiring lecture, World Schools Debate Champion and Debate Coach Julia Dhar explains the secret to winning a debate: find common ground with your opponent. Use this video to spark discussion about debate tactics and the power of unity over divisiveness.

2. “Why I Have Coffee with People Who Send Me Hate Mail” by Özlem Cekic

An immigrant who became a member of the Danish parliament, Özlem Cekic describes how she handled the hate mail she received for her religion and race shortly after her election. She decided to see if those sending her hate mail would be willing to meet her in person. Use this video to show students the power of listening and the importance of recognizing the humanity of those who disagree with you.

3. “Online social change: Easy to Organize, Hard to Win” by Zeynup Tufekci

In her modern insight on how the internet has transformed activism, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci discussed both the power and pitfalls of online movements for social change. This video is perfect to engage students in a time when a lot of activism starts and sometimes stays virtual rather than coming to physical fruition.


4. The Giver

by Lois Lowry

The Giver_ Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

Set in a community where the government controls everything, from one’s occupation to one’s spouse to one’s ability to feel things, The Giver is a palatable medium to get kids thinking about their opinion on the role of government. A cool launchpad for an exciting debate or discussion!

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Get it HERE.

From the fear that blinds the Minister of Magic to the famously evil microaggressions of Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix teaches us about the forms of corruption that happen in our world and how to identify them. Put a spin on this familiar tale and see what students come up with!

6. Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

Set in a future where everyone is constantly distracted, driving too fast, and never thinking, Fahrenheit 451 is a great book to get students to consider how our investment in the world around us can impact our passion to change the world around us.

Other Videos

7. “Supreme Court Shenanigans” by CGP Grey

As the Supreme Court has become a hot topic this election season, this quick, witty video can help explain to your class the nuances of Supreme Court nomination and how they may affect future court appointments.

Relevant 2020 Resources about Pandemics, Technology, and Isolation

TED Talks

8. “How Fast Can a Vaccine Be Made?” by Dan Kwartler

Quick, interesting, and scientific, this short animated TED Talk explains the process by which vaccines are researched, tested, and produced. Perfect for a science lesson or a discussion of current events.

9. “When is a Pandemic Over?” by Alex Rosenthal

This visual guide to pandemic theory explains three different ways the world has handled global pandemics, the effectiveness of each strategy, and the requirements of each. Useful for discussions about foreign policy and world-wide efforts for change.

10. “5 Needs that Any COVID-19 Response Should Meet” by Kwame Owusu-Kesse

In this short video, Harlem Children’s Zone Chief Executive Officer Kwame Owusu-Kesse explains why COVID relief efforts should be executed holistically, considering a community’s access to food, essential services, mental health, and more.

11. “How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas” by Manoush Zomorodi

Are your students bored of staying home? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Show them this video and inspire them to consider where their bored thoughts might lead.

Related: Let’s Allow Our Kids to be Bored

12. “Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy” by Adam Alter

Isolated from one another, we are more dependent on screens than ever. In this unsurprising but sobering study, we learn that not only is most of our free time consumed by screens, but we spend more time on apps that make us unhappy than on those that make us happy. A great conversation starter or debate topic.

13. “You are Not Alone in Your Loneliness” by Jonny Sun

In contrast with the previous video, online cartoonist Jonny Sun explains how, while the internet is not the same as real life, it can bring people the simple sense that they are not alone. Pair with the video on screens and have students discuss the question: Have screens helped or harmed us during COVID?


14. Phoenix Rising

by Karen Hesse

Rising Phoenix_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

Set in a town wrecked by a nearby nuclear accident, characters in Phoenix Rising face disease, quarantine, and school closures, yet they find a reason to live and move forward. An oldie but a goodie, your school may already have a book set of this one!

15. Among the Hidden

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Hidden

Get it HERE.

The first in a long series about children living in hiding, Among the Hidden will be relatable to students who feel isolated and unseen.

16. The Martian

by Andy Weir

The Martian_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

Abandoned on Mars, an astronaut must find a way to either escape the planet or survive on his own. An exciting novel that has been made into a movie, The Martian is a story of how isolation can turn into survival, innovation, and transcendence.

17. Persepolis

by Marjane Satrapi


Get it HERE.

In this graphic novel and autobiography, Marjane Satrapi shows what her life was like growing up in Iran in the midst of political unrest. Her childhood, shaken up by catastrophe and war, is relatable to anyone who has been young during a crisis.

18. Breathe

by Sarah Crossan

Breathe_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

From the coronavirus pandemic to widespread forest fires, this year has taught us never to take a full breath of fresh air for granted. Set in a dystopian world where breathing is a privilege, not a right, Breathe explores the idea of air being limited, as well as the inequities this may cause.

19. Awaken

by Katie Kacvinsky

Get it HERE.

An exploration of the effects of doing everything virtually rather than in person, the young adult novel Awaken reminds us of the importance of living in the real world rather than on a screen.

20. Five Feet Apart

by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott, & Tobias Iaconis

Five Feet Apart

Get it HERE.

A true social-distancing teen romance, Five Feet Apart tells a tale of young people who don’t allow their shared disease to rob them of their love for one another.

21. Esperanza Rising

by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

A story about the transformative power of adversity, Esperanza Rising will remind students that going through difficulty can make them stronger.

22. Everything, Everything

by Nicola Yoon

Everything Everything_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

With its protagonist isolated due to a severe auto-immune disorder, Everything, Everything is the perfect book for teenage readers who feel trapped and alone.

23. The Murmur of Bees

by Sofia Segovia

Murmur of Bees_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

Available in Spanish or its English translation, The Murmur of Bees follows a fictional Mexican village and its struggles with the Spanish flu, land disputes, and more. Ideal for high school readers.


24. Coronavirus Pandemic (Frontline documentary)

The Frontline documentary on the coronavirus pandemic is available to watch online for free.

25. Influenza of 1918 (documentary directed by John Jones)

Are your students curious about our most recent pandemic before COVID? Show them this documentary on the Influenza outbreak of 1918. Available on Amazon Prime as well as other sources.

26. “Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You” video by CGP Grey

Practical and research-based, this video explains how to healthily organize your life (and your space!) while in isolation.

Relevant 2020 Resources about Racism

TED Talks

27. “How Racial Bias Works—and How to Disrupt It” by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

In this 15 minute talk, social psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt explains where racial bias comes from, how this impacts law enforcement, and how simple interventions can make a big difference in creating a just society.

28. “Why Black Girls are Targeted for Punishment at School—and How to Change That” by Monique W. Morris

Addressing racial bias in schools, acclaimed author and social justice scholar Monique W. Morris explains the unfair stereotypes that create a punishment gap, particularly between white and black girls, in the classroom. An excellent reminder for teachers of the importance of recognizing our own biases when interacting with students.

29. “I Love Being a Police Officer, But We Need Reform” by Melvin Russell

A police officer’s personal testimony about the need for law enforcement reform, use this video to start a conversation with students.


30. The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Get it HERE.

Written for the purpose of exposing racist police brutality, this young adult novel has been both an object of praise and controversy. While banned in some states for “inappropriate language,” older students will be inspired by its honest content and call for change.

31. Push Out: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

by Monique W. Morris

Push Out: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools_Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

Get it HERE.

A must-read for any educator, Pushout explores in depth how the American education system criminalizes black girls on a daily basis.

32. Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?

by Maya Schenwar

Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?

Get it HERE.

Looking for a reliable source to teach and discuss the racial issues in law enforcement? Look no further than this collection of essays and testimonials about police violence and structural racism, written by witnesses and experts.


Best Online Resources & Books to Help Kids Process Everything Happening in 2020

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Iris Planchet

Senior Member

Iris Planchet is a middle school Language Arts teacher. She loves teaching about her favorite books, including House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Outside of reading and writing, you can find her baking, playing guitar, or playing board games with her family.
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