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.


Poems for Multiple Voices

Poems for multiple voices are poems that are meant to be read aloud by two or more people, with different lines for each reader. Sometimes the lines for different voices are in different colors, or they are physically separated on the page. Poems for multiple voices can be difficult to find. Search in the library catalog and the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database for: “two voices” poems or “four voices” poems. You can also do a Google search for poems for multiple voices. There is a lot of online content about how to create lesson plans using poems for multiple voices.

Other books that would work for multiple voices include novels from multiple perspectives, such as Nikki Grimes’ Bronx Masquerade (Education S Collection S.G882b), which is told from the alternating perspectives of an English teacher and each of his students. Bilingual books can also work, with children switching off between languages–one reads the first language, and the other reads the second language. One example is Monica Brown’s Side by Side: the Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez = Lado a lado: la historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez (Education S Collection SB. C512b), a book in both English and Spanish.

Multiple voice poems can also be called dialogue poems, although this term is not used in the library’s catalog. The University of Minnesota has a lesson plan for dialogue poems that teaches different cultural perspectives. This lesson plan includes a powerful poem told in two voices called “Two Women.” This poem was written by a working-class Chilean woman and illustrates the differences between a poor woman’s life and a rich woman’s life.

Two Voices

Alderson, Sue Ann.
Wherever Bears Be: a Story for Two Voices. 1999.
In this story for two voices, two girls embark on a berry-picking expedition, afraid that they are being followed by bears.
[Education Storage Q. SE. Al23w]

Fleischman, Paul.
I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices. 1985.
A collection of poems about birds to be read aloud by two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 F628I]

Fleischman, Paul.
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. 1988.
Written to be read aloud by two voices–sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous–here is a collection of poems that celebrate the insect world, from the short life of the mayfly to the love song of the book louse. Funny, sad, loud, and quiet, each of these poems resounds with a booming, boisterous, joyful noise.
[Education S Collection S.811 F628J]

Franco, Betsy.
Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices. 2009.
Out on the playground, kids are skipping rope and making trades. In the classroom, they’re learning their lessons….or spinning tales about why they haven’t turned in their homework. Throughout this collection of nineteen poems–ideal for reading aloud in pairs, but just as much fun with one or many–words, pictures, and voices erupt in an irresistible invitation to join an exhilarating ride around school.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 F848m]

Harrison, David L.
Bugs: Poems about Creeping. 2007.
These often funny poems are written to be read aloud. Some of them are made for two voices, with the second voice sometimes being a buzzing chorus of bugs.
[Education S Collection S.811 H245b]

Harrison, David L.
Farmer’s Dog goes to the Forest. 2005.
David L. Harrison’s charming rhymes for two voices provide young readers with plenty of lighthearted fun while they participate in Dog’s interviews with everything from worms to carrots to cats.
[Education S Collection S.811 H245f]

Heard, Georgia.
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky: Poems. 1992.
These short poems about wild animals include poems for two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 H3512C]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together. 2010.
Retells thirteen of Aesop’s fables, with each short poem inviting two readers to read their own parts, and then read the passage in the central column together.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653v]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together. 2004.
Eight favorite fairy tales in very short tellings, told in two voices to allow reading together.
[Education S Collection Q. S.398.2 H653y]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together. 2005.
Classic Mother Goose rhymes in color-coded typography let young children read along with an adult.
[Center for Children’s Books Q. S.811 H653y2005]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together. 2007.
Uses alliteration, rhyme, and repetition to invite children to read along with peers or with an adult.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653y2007]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together. 2001.
With type set in three columns and three colors for easy readability, each short, rhymed story in this collection is like a little play for two voices. They are about all kinds of thing: bears, birthdays, puppies, snowmen, friendships, and more. They all feature traditional reading techniques — rhyme, rhythm, and repetition — and finish with a satisfying refrain.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653y]

Lewis, J. Patrick and Keith Graves.
The World’s Greatest: Poems. 2008.
Who has kissed the most cobras? Eaten the most live scorpions? These and 21 other vexing superlatives are the subject matter of this zany collection of verse. Included are two poems that can be read in two voices.
[Education S Collection S.811 L5853w]

Schlitz, Laura Amy.
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village. 2007.
A collection of short one-person plays featuring characters, between ten and fifteen years old, who live in or near a thirteenth-century English manor. There are also two dialogues for two voices.
[Education Juvenile Reference S.812 Sch394g; Uni High 812 Sch394g]

Yolen, Jane, et al.
Dear Mother, Dear Daughter: Poems for Young People. 2001.
In 17 pairs of verse, poets Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple — real-life mother and daughter — exchange their thoughts on a variety of adolescent issues great and small, such as homework, messy bedrooms, lengthy telephone calls, the death of a grandparent, and schoolgirl crushes. These poems can be read by two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 Y78de]

Four Voices

Fleischman, Paul.
Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices. 2000.
Delight in the gossipy “Seventh-Grade Soap Opera,” alive with whispers, invitations, and hearsay about who’s fibbing, eavesdropping, or holding hands with whom. Let the poignant “Ghosts’ Race” reveal the secret hungry ghosts know — and their spirited take on mortal mealtime. Arranged in color-coded groups of four lines, one line per speaker, each poem weaves a rich tapestry of rhythm, sense, and sound.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 F628b2000]

Greenfield, Eloise.
The Friendly Four. 2006.
When Drum, Dorene, Louis, and Rae enter one another’s lives unexpectedly, they embark on an unforgettable summer of discovery and creative play together. With individual poems and poems for multiple voices, Eloise Greenfield follows four children as they explore the bonds of friendship, family, and community.
[Center for Children’s Books Q. S.811 G837f]

Varied Voices

Janeczko, Paul B.
A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. 2009.
Paul B. Janeczko offers a range of gems in this collection, from classic Shakespeare and Lear to anonymous rhymes to contemporary riffs on everything under the sun. There are options for one, two, three, and more voices.
[Education S-Collection S.811 F7397]