What do sharks, SpaceX and emotional wellness have in common? They are just three examples of the 30 topics included in a new series of digital Exploration Guides for children and teens created by The Seattle Public Library in partnership with Seattle Public Schools.

The Exploration Guides, curated by Library staff, focus on subjects of high interest to youth and are designed to encourage students to explore on their own. Prepared for three grade ranges — grades 3-5, middle and high school — each guide includes a range of digital media on a topic, including videos, podcasts, art, e-books, historical images and more. For example, an exploration of the Lake City neighborhood includes a map of racial restrictive covenants, a vintage restaurant menu and a KUOW interview about murals with a teen leader in Lake City. A guide about marine animals of Puget Sound includes a video about the secret life of plankton, Seattle Aquarium livecams and a novel about a 12-year-old girl’s obsession with a whale called Blue 55.

"Exploration Guides are designed for students to experience new or familiar topics in an engaging and playful way,” said Ashley Braun, children’s librarian at Central Library, one of 35 librarians involved in the project. “They can step back in time to explore one of Seattle’s historic neighborhoods, learn about athletes as activists, or soar over Seattle with the city’s birds – all from home! We've scoured the web for the perfect resources to tell these stories, and we hope youth will dive in and enjoy."

"The guides are a way to help kids find connections between the things they're interested in and resources that will encourage those curiosities even further!" said Carter Kemp, a Seattle Public Schools librarian at Kimball Elementary, who was involved in conceiving the project.

A full list of guides by grade level can be found at spl.org/ExplorationGuides. Examples include:

  • Grades 3-5: Sharks; baking and cake decorating; Harriet Tubman; Mount St. Helen’s; SpaceX
  • Middle school: Athletes as activists; emotional wellness; urban critters; urban nature
  • High school: Neighborhood history collections; mysteries of the ocean; COVID-19 and race


Braun said that Library staff will continue to add Exploration Guides, which can be accessed by any visitor to the Library website, no Library card necessary for most resources.


All physical locations of The Seattle Public Library are closed in accordance with public health guidelines, but the Library is beginning to phase in services such as book returns and curbside service. Find out more at our Road to Reopening page. Find out more about The Seattle Public Library’s digital resources and services at spl.org/stayinghome.