One bright spot amid all the dark news about the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of artists, writers, musicians, creators—and regular everyday people—who have taken to the Internet to offer comfort in creativity. Every day, it seems, there's a new announcement of an online drawing class, music release or story time to help people through.
Levar Burton, who taught a whole generation of kids to love reading with his calm, positive presence on the PBS show Reading Rainbow, first announced his livestream story time last week via Twitter. The actor and longtime childhood literacy advocate sent out a public request for material he had permission to read. The children's book division of HarperCollins publishers responded with a blanket "yes," as did bestselling author Neil Gaiman.
Burton launches his #LeVarBurtonReads story time series this Friday, April 3 on Twitter with a reading aimed at adults. Monday mornings at 9 am PT he'll stream a story reading for children, and Wednesday afternoons at 3 pm PT he'll read YA for tweens and middle-grade readers.
Meanwhile, if you can't wait to relive your Reading Rainbow years, warm up with this video clip of LeVar Burton reading Goodnight Moon to scientist and all-around good guy Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which is just as awesome as it sounds.
In other fantastic news, Dolly Parton also launches a bedtime story series online this Friday night, as she announced this week on the Imagination Library YouTube channel:
The story time series, called "Good Night with Dolly," will release a new bedtime story video every Friday night at 7 pm ET on its YouTube channel.
Dolly Parton is the founder of the childhood literacy organization the Imagination Library, which sends free books to children every month. You can listen to Parton read her own children's book Coat of Many Colors at a Library of Congress celebration in honor of the Imagination Library—and yes, it's ridiculously sweet (and she can't help but break into song a few times).
Dolly Parton and LeVar Burton join a growing number of celebrities offering online story times to help parents and kids through the pandemic. Josh Gad (the voice of Frozen's Olaf) reads on Twitter every night, Cressida Cowell of How to Train Your Dragon series fame reads from her books on YouTube, and literally every movie star you've ever not-so-secretly thirsted for—from Chris Evans to Eddie Redmayne to Josh Brolin—is reading children's picture books over at @SaveWithStories on Instagram, which benefits No Kid Hungry and Save the Children.
When the pandemic news gets to feel like too much, it's comforting to know that you and your children can curl up with a good book, a familiar face and a friendly voice.