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Read J.K. Rowling’s previously-unreleased book for free online

If you have kids in your family, you already know how difficult COVID-19 and quarantine can be for them. Between boredom, fear and dashed expectations for things like graduation, life indoors can feel like a grim slog of binge-watching and video games.

In light of the situation, many parents are using lockdown to bring back a favorite pastime from the pre-digital days: reading. And thanks to the power of the internet, there’s never been more free reading material available to anyone looking for it. Tap or click here to see how you can get thousands of free e-books on a variety of subjects.

When it comes to storytelling, few names hold more authority than J.K. Rowling, the author of the beloved Harry Potter series. And now, to help kids cope with the stresses of quarantine, she’s releasing an unseen story that’s been locked away for years. Here’s how you can read this brand new tale for free online.

What is The Ickabog?

J.K. Rowling, one of the preeminent fantasy authors of our time, has announced she’s releasing a previously unpublished story for free to the delight of millions of children and families under lockdown. Titled “The Ickabog,” the fantasy story will be published chapter-by-chapter on its own official website for the next several weeks until completion.

For those who are curious, no, this story has nothing to do with Harry Potter and his famous “Wizarding World.” The Ickabog actually predates the Potter series and was originally written by Rowling for her children before she moved on to publishing novels for adults. Harry Potter, eventually, came next. Tap or click here to see the world’s best experiences for Potter fans.

And sure enough, the story does veer towards kids’ territory — but not in a bad way. It’s as pure of a fairy tale as you can get, with Chapter 1 even opening with “Once upon a time.” Classic.

Rowling is aiming to have the completed story published by July 2020, but she isn’t stopping The Ickabog there. There are plans for a physical release in November 2020, and Rowling has stated that all proceeds from the books will go to charity. So even if you’ve read the entire story, there’s still a great reason to bring a physical copy home as well.

Drawn to reading

If a new piece of fiction from J.K. Rowling wasn’t enough for your kids, then they’ll be thrilled to hear the next piece of news about the physical edition of The Ickabog. Scholastic, Rowling’s U.S. publisher, is hosting a drawing contest for the story — and the winners will have their art featured in the official release this November.

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If your children love to draw, it’s the perfect chance to get them involved with a major project and share their masterpiece with the world. Each week has different illustration themes, and the contest is restricted to kids aged 7-12. Grownups need not apply.

To enter the contest, tap or click here to visit Scholastic’s site and make sure to read the official rules. It’s not every day a kid has a chance to have their art published by the likes of J.K. Rowling, of all people.

The pandemic may be long and drawn out, but it’s inspiring to see enough people care about the mental health of ordinary kids around the world. We look forward to seeing where The Ickabog goes from here. Can it be next week already?

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