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Dolly Parton, LeVar Burton + more celebrities streaming story times for kids 🙌

Big stars are reading to little kids during this pandemic.

Dolly Parton, LeVar Burton

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.

This Friday, two well-known figures launch streaming story times online: Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton, and universally beloved music genius (and celestial force for good) Dolly Parton.

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.

<p> Siobhan Adcock is the Experts Editor at Motherly and the author of two novels about motherhood, <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/" target="_blank">The Completionist</a> and <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/the-barter" target="_blank">The Barter</a>. Her writing has also appeared in Romper, Bustle, Ms., McSweeney's, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Review of Books and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. </p>

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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