What do frogs and salamanders have in common? What’s the largest coral reef on Earth? And who wrote the picture book, Possum Magic?

State Library Victoria members can access hundreds of databases from home (if your home is in Victoria). That’s millions of articles, magazines, archives, ebooks, videos, songs, audiobooks and more, available through the catalogue anytime. We’re taking a closer look at new and/or interesting databases as well as hidden gems from our collections. Read on for top picks and tips from Librarians.

Not a member yet? Sign up online first and reward your curiosity.

Today we’re looking at Britannica Kids. Since this is one of our children’s databases, we’ve written it in simpler language suitable for parents reading along with their kids.

What makes this database so great?

This database doesn’t just answer these questions. It’s designed so that kids can find the answers themselves, and to explore the world around them while at home.

Photo of a variety of corals underwater from an outcrop on Flynn Reef
Hint: Toby Hudson, Coral Outcrop Flynn Reef, CC BY-SA 3.0

👍 Designed for early and more advanced readers

Britannica Kids is part of the Britannica encyclopaedia series, and its content has been rewritten and redesigned for a younger audience and other early readers. Articles use simpler language and often include more supporting images, too. Readers can double-click on any word to see its definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Toggle between simpler Reading Levels (1) and more advanced (2, sometimes 3). The higher levels redirect readers to Britannica Teens, which offers expanded content that uses more advanced vocabulary.

🌏 A world of content

It offers short, introductory reference entries on a wide range of topics, from animals to world religions (screenshot of topics below). Look for specific information using the search box at the top right corner of each page. Find other related topics by clicking hyperlinks within an article, or those listed under the ‘Related ➡’ section (to the left of the article).

Screenshot of article topics available in Britannica Kids: animals, fine arts, English, places, plants and other living things, science and mathematics, social sciences, health and physical education, and world religions

Learn your way

Whether you prefer 👀 visual, 👂 aural or 🤟 activities-based content as a learner, Britannica Kids offers information in a range of formats along with some nifty features. Readers can browse the collection by format (📰 article, 📷 image or 🎥 video), as well as by theme (animal kingdom, geography and more).

One of its top features is ‘Read Aloud’, a text-to-speech option which reads your articles aloud for you in English. Look for the ⏪ ▶ ⏩ ‘rewind – play – fast forward’ icons above text sections in Britannica Kids, or the 🔊 ‘sound’ icon in Britannica Teens.

Test your knowledge with the ‘Do you know’ quiz on the landing page (screenshot below), and follow links to learn more about the answer.

Screenshot of a 'Do you know' quiz question on the landing page of Britannica Kids. Reads: 'Name that image' - What does this picture show? A blood vessel / a nebula / a flower ornament / a planet - Image is a blossoming red shape against a black background.

Explore the World Atlas, or focus on a couple of regions by selecting two countries for comparison.

Screenshot of Britannica Kids' Compare Countries tool featuring information on Australia and New Zealand
Screenshot of Britannica Kids‘ Compare Countries tool featuring information on Australia and New Zealand

👩‍👩‍👧‍👧 Explore together as a family

For any accompanying adults wishing to read ahead (and preempt questions), Britannica Adults can also be a valuable supplementary resource. (e.g. Did you know that the largest coral reef of Earth is also visible from space?)

🔡 Does your family speak another language at home? Or, are you interested in learning another language? Amazing! You might enjoy using the Translation feature to view Britannica Teens articles in another language. To try it out yourself, click on the globe icon 🌏 and select your preferred language.

📌 Database highlights

So, let’s answer those questions:

🐸 What do frogs and salamanders have in common?

They are both types of amphibians, along with toads, newts and caecilians (worm-like creatures). Learn more in this Britannica Kids article on amphibians (screenshot below).

Screenshot of Britannica Kids article on amphibians

🐠 What’s the largest coral reef on Earth?

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Did you know that it isn’t one big reef? It’s really more than 2,000 individual reefs. Learn more in this Britannica Kids article on the Great Barrier Reef (screenshot below).

Screenshot of Britannica Kids article on the Great Barrier Reef

📕 And who created the book, Possum Magic?

Mem Fox is the author of Possum Magic. She is an Australian author, and actually wrote the book as an assignment while she was studying at Flinders University. Learn more in this Britannica Kids article on Mem Fox (screenshot below).

Screenshot of Britannica Kids article on Mem Fox

How did your answers compare?

Britannica Kids is great resource in and of itself, but that’s not where it ends. It also works wonderfully as a gateway for early readers to explore topics further using other library resources. Why not try this brainstorming activity together? Try to spot some keywords that captured the most important details of the articles above. Which words might help you find more information about these topics?

As an example, now that we know who wrote Possum Magic, let’s search the Library catalogue using “Mem Fox” as an exact phrase or as an author (“Fox, Mem”). Results include:
👉 Mem Fox’s author website,
👉 realia – a statue of Grandma Poss and Hush,
👉 and quite a few books, which you could read the next time you can visit the State Library (catalogue results).

Screenshot of the State Library Victoria catalogue showing results for a search of 'Mem Fox' with filters applied. Shows a list of children's picture books.
Screenshot of State Library Victoria catalogue search results for “Mem Fox” with filters applied (right-hand side)

💬 What are your thoughts?

We hope you enjoy exploring Britannica Kids.

We always welcome your recommendations for database trials  – let us know what you’d like to see.  Have a research query or questions on how to use our online collections? Ask a Librarian.

🎈 Explore your Library at home

Looking for more fun activities to do together? Check out our page for children and families for ideas, including:
🐱‍🐉 Storytime, Baby bounce and more programs
📚 Family e-Bookshelf
🎧 Children’s audiobooks
🔗 View our guide to Children’s literature and Children’s reading database list to explore more content for younger audiences.

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