Reading with the Stars

Running out of books? Looking for a fun new way to experience children’s literature? Celebrities have got it covered. Many famous people, including authors, actors, athletes, and more, are taking this unique opportunity to share their love of reading with the world. Check out the resources below for lots of fun celebrity read-alouds.

Storyline Online
This Emmy-nominated website hosts tons of videos from celebrities reading children’s books aloud. While little ones may be more interested in the stories than the famous voices sharing them, adults and kids alike will enjoy hearing classics such as Harry the Dirty Dog, read by Betty White, and contemporary books such as Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!, read in both English and Spanish by Jaime Camil. Other famous voices include Oprah Winfrey, Rami Malek, Kristen Bell, and many more.

NorthSouth Books
Children’s book publisher NorthSouth maintains a YouTube channel containing many read-alouds, and some of these stories are read by the authors who wrote them. Of special note is author and illustrator Marcus Pfister reading his timeless tale, The Rainbow Fish.

Actors, authors, musicians, hosts, firemen, teachers, and more have contributed to this charity-driven project popularized by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams and dedicated to feeding hungry children. From Mr. Met to Mrs. Kasha Davis, from Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex to “Weird Al” Yankovic, the list of celebrities reading picture books on this account is virtually endless. You can even listen along with Fiona the baby hippo as the director of the Cincinnati Zoo reads Fiona, It’s Bedtime. Please note that an Instagram account is required to view the videos.

Wizarding World
Is there a better way to experience Harry Potter than to have the book read to you by Harry Potter himself? Join Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who portrayed Harry Potter in the films, as he reads aloud the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Each of the seventeen chapters will be read by a new famous friend of the Wizarding World, such as Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger, London and Broadway productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander, the “Fantastic Beasts” film series). Listeners are encouraged to send in their fan-art for upcoming chapters, which may be featured throughout the readings. Please note that as the Wizarding World site updates, some chapters may require users to sign up for a free account for access.

Gruffalo World
Several of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved picture books have been adapted almost word for word into visually stunning short films. Clips from these films are available on the Gruffalo World YouTube channel, and can serve as a wonderful supplement to the books. Some featured clips are from The Highway Rat, starring David Tennant, Stick Man, starring Martin Freeman, The Gruffalo, starring James Corden, and Oscar-nominated Room on the Broom, narrated by Simon Pegg. Most of the full-length films are also available for purchase or rental via YouTube and other online platforms.

Read-Along with PBS KIDS!
Join PBS KIDS authors as they read aloud their own books, answer questions, and share what they are doing during the quarantine. Marc Brown (Arthur), Victoria Kann (Pinkalicious and Peteriffic), Angela Santomero (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and many more are in on the fun. PBS KIDS has also recently started hosting “Mondays with Michelle Obama,” a series in which the former first lady reads aloud some of her favorite picture books once a week.

Chicago Public Library: Live from the Library
Many famous Illinoisans have participated in the Chicago Public Library’s virtual story times, including actress Jane Lynch, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the Obamas. Interspersed among these are more traditional library story times from expert Chicago librarians. (For more librarian-run story times, check out the New York Public Library. Many local libraries are hosting online story times as well.)

Dr. Seuss Raps Over Dr. Dre Beats
Although not traditionally famous (yet), Milwaukee artist Wes Tank’s raps of requested Dr. Seuss books to beats by Dr. Dre have marked him as an up-and-coming performer, and he has been featured on many local news stations. With new raps posted about once a week, this engaging and rhythmic YouTube playlist puts a fun twist on Dr. Seuss and is nothing short of delightful.