Thank God For Celebs & Beloved Authors Reading Children’s Books, Aka “Operation Storytime”
A good book is like a secret door, a long-haired children's author once told a TED talk crowd (Mac, it was Mac Barnett), and famous authors, illustrators, celebrities, and educators are providing a (virtual) escape from our apartments and homes during the weeks-long shut-in with live and/or online readings and storytelling sessions. Many of Romper's favorite authors and illustrators, from Josh Gad and Mac Barnett to Oge Mora, Annie Barrows, Eva Chen, Sophie Blackall, Rowboat Watkins, and Jan Brett have taken to the internet to perform, or picked up the torch of what we're calling "Operation Storytime," reading their stories online for your (kids') enjoyment. It's basically like Yo-Yo Ma decided to give a backyard concert over the fence.
You can find more by searching the #OperationStorytime hashtag on social media, and here at Romper we're rounding up all the famous-es reading children's books, that we might make lemonade with the present moment (thus warding off scurvy) and amass a library of stories to share with our kids. Check back as more storytellers support the effort, follow and send your heart-eye emojis to the ones who steal your heart, order the books you like, and visit your local bookstore once this is all over and we all get our bodies back.
Shawn Harris Reading Everyone's Awake
Shawn Harris is the laser-eyed genius behind the artwork in Everyone’s Awake, the anti-bedtime book written by Colin Meloy that finds a wild joy in that nighttime energy, and What Can a Citizen Do?, written by Dave Eggers, but did you know he’s a delightful storyteller too?
Find Shawn on Instagram.
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More Operation Storytime on Romper.com:
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Oge Mora Reading Saturday
The beloved “collage enthusiast” and author of Thank You, Omu! is reading Saturday, in which a mother and daughter try to pack as much fun into the one day they get together as possible — then find their plans are ruined. Saturday takes on a different kind of significance right now, with parents stuck heading to their jobs with schools closed, or home and trying to crank out work while their kids bounce off the walls. If it all gets too much, just remember: “Phew!” Let it go.
Jennifer Garner Reading Jan Brett's The Mitten
Beating everyone to the punch, Jennifer Garner offered up the first storytime of the shut-in, treating her golden retriever to a performance of the coziest story of all time, Jan Brett's classic The Mitten. On Monday, the mother of two revealed on Instagram that she's teamed up with Amy Adams to help raise money for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry with their initiative, Save With Stories.
Jan Brett Reading Cozy
Giving you rather a large treat, the author of The Mitten, The Snowy Nap, The Tale of the Tiger Slippers and a million other books (Jan is nothing if not prolific!) has a sneak preview of her upcoming book Cozy, about a musk ox — it doesn't come out until later this year! Enjoy!
Brandon Reese Reading Cave Dada
We are all Cave Dada at this point in time. Take a moment out from jumping on the couch cushions and enjoy Brandon Reese performing his story.
Molly Idle Reading Pearl
We would describe Pearl, a quiet story about a mermaid who wants more responsibility after her mother entrusts her with the care of a single grain of sand, as ASMR for adults and children alike. It’s also a lovely rumination on the power of small acts at a time when we can only really tend our own plots, as you’ll see from Molly’s reading. Her next book, Coral, is out this May.
Anica Mrose Rissi Reading Love, Sophia On The Moon
The author of Love, Sophia on the Moon reads aloud her book with illustrator Mika Song about a very indefatigable girl who is unreachable right now because she is on the moon (OK, mom?!).
Annie Barrows Reading Ivy & Bean Break The Fossil Record
Even if they're not yet on your radar, the Ivy & Bean books are probably already high on your kid's list of favorites. Written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, the stories are about two very different girls — Bean is the wild one who might, say, start dancing on the dinner table during a prolonged shut-in, while Ivy might gaze out the window, and then pen the Great American Novel. Let Annie take you through one of her favs in her reading on YouTube.
Find Annie on Twitter.
Sophie Blackall Reading Ivy & Bean: One Big Happy Family
Dip in with Sophie Blackall, above, who illustrates the series with Annie Barrows, and has a million other children's books, including What's So Bad About Being An Only Child?, written by Cari Best, and Finding Winnie, winner of the Caldecott Medal.
Mac Barnett Reading A Book A Day
Prolific author and maker of metaphorical doors Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn, The Wolf, The Duck, & The Mouse, Triangle, Square, Circle, Just Because, Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem) has announced he will read one of his books live on IGTV each day at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT of the world's self-isolation period. We believe, but cannot confirm, that he will be wearing 42 different hats as he makes his way through his 42 books.
Find Mac on Instagram each day at 12 p.m. PT.
Rebecca Balcárcel Reading The Other Half Of Happy
Your middle-grader (or elementary-schooler!) will connect with the star of The Other Half of Happy, Quijana, a "girl in pieces" who is half Guatemalan and half American. Author Rebecca Balcárcel reads from her Pura Belpré Honor Book.
Sarah Jacoby Reading Forever Or A Day
Follow her for the delightful, delicate art she posts to her Instagram, and then devour all her books, the most recent of which is Rabbit and the Motorbike. You can get a taste for it in Sarah’s reading (rewatch, as needed).
Rowboat Watkins Reading Most Marshmallows
We cannot with Rowboat's tinkly storytime music at the beginning of his reading of a miniature copy of Most Marshmallows. Rowboat's most recent book is Mabel, about a mermaid who is just like you or I, only she has a mustache, which makes fitting in a little tricky. Welcome to the mind of Rowboat Watkins!
Find Rowboat on Instagram.
Karen Romano Young Reading A Girl, A Raccoon, And The Midnight Moon
When life imitates art: In A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon, the public library is set to be closed, so Pearl, the librarian's daughter, goes to great efforts to keep the stories flowing.
Find Karen on Twitter.
Steven Weinberg Reading AstroNuts (With Child!)
For the zany and fun AstroNuts, a middle-grade series, Steven Weinberg worked with none other than Jon Scieszka (all the books, including The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairytales), and he’s reading from his Instagram for your edification.
Find Steven on Instagram.
John August Reading From Arlo Finch In The Valley Of Fire
You probably know John August's middle-grade series, Arlo Finch, about a boy who moves to the mysterious town of Pine Mountain in Colorado, but August is behind a number of screenplays (his credits include Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie!). August, a Very Good Human, also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool (timely!!!).
Find John on Twitter.
Ame Dyckman Reading You Don’t Want A Unicorn! and Dandy
Ame Dyckman reads You Don’t Want A Unicorn! dressed as… a unicorn. Wins the day, wins our hearts.
And then she reads Dandy as a lion. I can't. It's too much.
Find Ame on Twitter.
Laurel Snyder Reading Charlie & Mouse Outdoors and Baxter, The Pig Who Wanted To Be Kosher
Laurel Snyder is the author of the adorable and cheeky Charlie & Mouse series, about two brothers, illustrated by Emily Hughes, teasing us with a story about the outdoors (are you in an apartment with small children? I am). And in time for Shabbat, she reads Baxter, which is a special treat, because this book is no longer in print!
Susie Jaramillo Reading Little Sunny Sunshine
A little dual-language magic for you — the creator of Encantos reads from Little Sunny Sunshine or Solecitos Canticos, which reads in English one direction, and Spanish the other.
Bob Shea Reading Who Wet My Pants?
Say no more! Shea’s book is a surefire classic, and pointing fingers in a tiny apartment full of wet pants is what this shut-in is all about. If you haven’t read Who Wet My Pants?, enjoy Shea’s enthusiastic recitation here.
Find Bob on Instagram and Twitter.
Brooke Smith Reading The Keeper Of Wild Words
If you haven't picked up a copy of The Keeper of Wild Words, a time in which you are committed to circling your garden 800 times or so is ideal for dipping into the book. Nature words are being replaced by tech words and neologisms, and so Brooke’s grandmother makes the effort to teach her granddaughter the names of things like dandelions (“fairy dust sitting on a stem”) — in the process they saves the words, and also a piece of their own bond.
Find Brooke on Instagram.
Ben Guterson Reading From Winterhouse
Enjoy the author of the middle-grade urban fantasy Winterhouse series as he rides out the shut-in, which began earlier in his home state of Washington (Guterson lives in the foothills of the Cascades).
Christina Soontornvat Reading From Diary Of An Ice Princess: The Big Freeze
We’re going to be here for a while, so get started on Christina Soontornvat’s chapter-book series, Diary of an Ice Princess, about Princess Lina, who lives in the clouds and can flyyy!
Find Christina on Twitter.
Brad McClelland Reading From Legends Of The Lost Causes
Brad McLelland is releasing the third book in the Legends of the Lost Causes series this week, and offering a reading of Chapter 1, kicking off in the old West, Missouri.
Find Brad on Twitter.
Carole Lindstrom Reading We Are Water Protectors
The author of We Are Water Protectors and Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle, Carole Lindstrom, is Anishinabe/Métis and a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. She reads her inspiring book in a new YouTube video.
Find Carole on Twitter.
Aron Nels Steinke Reading The Zoo Box
Another lovely author, Aron Nels Steinke, reads from his award-winning children’s book, The Zoo Box, co-authored with Ariel Cohn (things are about to get silly).
Follow Aron on Twitter.
Patrice Karst Reading The Invisible String
If you’re worried about family members right now, The Invisible String, which has sold over half a million copies worldwide, will be a comfort. Author Patrice Karst reads her book on Facebook, teaching your kids that no one is alone, no matter how far away they might be.
Find Patricia on Facebook.
Sam Wedelich Reading Chicken Little: The Real And Totally True Tale
The author of Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale gave her fans a sneak preview of her new book in a reading on Instagram (the story you loved as a kid, with some twists).
Find Sam on Instagram.
Eva Chen Reading Juno Valentine And The Magical Shoes
Kristina Forest Reading From Now That I've Found You
Written by the author of the YA novel I Wanna Be Where You Are, Now That I've Found You is about an African American star on the rise who gets blacklisted after a friend's betrayal. Kristina Forest lives in Brooklyn, where it's quite hard to get any distance between you and other people, to be honest!
Ethan Long Reading Hello, World!
Hello, World! indeed! The neighborhood that Ethan Long sketched in the book of the same name may have shrunk, but you can find him reading his work, and are encouraged to check out his other books, including Sun and Moon Together, Books 1 and 2 in the Happy County series, as well as the Geisel Award-winning Up Tall and High!
Find Ethan on Instagram.
Joyce Wan Reading You Are My Cupcake
The author/illustrator of You Are My Cupcake, a board book that is good enough to eat, gives you a million ways to let your littles know you love them while they’re climbing on your head this next few weeks. She also explains how her 2011 classic came to be.
Find Joyce on Instagram.
Cedella Marley's Niece Reads Get Up, Stand Up
The very adorable niece of Cedella Marley is ready to perform! She is reading Get Up, Stand Up, a picture-book adaptation of those famous Bob Marley lyrics — i.e., written by Cedella’s father — with a timely message about justice and making a difference.
Oliver Jeffers Reading A Book A Day
Like his buddy Mac Barnett, Oliver Jeffers (How to Catch a Star, The Fate of Fausto, The Boy, His Stories, & How They Came to Be, illustrator of The Day the Crayons Quit) is doing a reading each day on Instagram to keep you entertained through this tempest — watch on his IGTV each day.
Barbara McClintock Reading The Gingerbread Man
Barbara McClintock was joined by her cat Nick as she read a book she illustrated, The Gingerbread Man, by Jim Aylesworth — the perfect story to get you in the mood for baking this shut-in!
Find Barbara on Instagram.
Carmen Agra Deedy Reading Rita & Ralph's Rotten Day
Havana-born Carmen Agra Deedy took to YouTube to read her new book, Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day, which is perfect for taking you through the ups and downs of your days right now.
Find Carmen on Facebook.
Eric Carle Reads The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle is a kidlit legend. There's even an Eric Carle museum, which shared this video on Instagram to join in the Operation Storytime fun. Also, March 18th is The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day! Who knew?
Find the Eric Carle Museum on Instagram.
Justin LaRocca Hansen Reading Monster Hunter
It's no fair when monsters come into your house and make messes that your mom makes you clean up. Hansen's monsters are fun and hideous. And maybe, just maybe, you can get your monsters (kids) to help clean up their monster messes.
Find Justin LaRocca Hansen on Instagram.
Brian Biggs Reading His Everything Goes Board Books
Perfect the littlest homeschoolers, Biggs reads his board books that feature vehicles and concepts like counting and opposites. He's the author and illustrator of these books and he graciously offers these up for kids who enjoy "a good book about cars read to you by a disembodied book on the internet."
Christine Platt Reading Ana & Andrew: The Magic Violin
Christine Platt's Ana and Andrew live in Washington D.C., and in the first book of the series, they learn about Frederick Douglass. Part history lesson and part music lesson, Platt reads this chapter book that will tie in perfectly to kids who are homeschooling and learning history.
Find Christine Platt on Instagram.
Angela DiTerlizzi Reading The Magical Yet
Angela DiTerlizzi shares her latest book, The Magical Yet. This book isn't out yet. It's not in bookstores yet. It's not in libraries yet. So getting to read this one is extra special. (Plus, she shows us what's under the dust jacket and — holy wow — it's awesome!)
Josh Gad Reading Drew Daywalt's The Day The Crayons Quit
Before Operation Storytime even launched, one of our favorites was on the job (great minds think alike)! If you've run out of Frozen movies and spinoffs to keep your kids busy, Olaf (Josh Gad) is here to read the silliest and best book about cranky art supplies — Drew Daywalt's The Day the Crayons Quit, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Come for the sad beige crayon voice and stay for the triumphant pink crayon voice.
Images at top, clockwise from top left: Chronicle Books; Harper Collins, Philomel Books, Penguin Random House, Instagram/MacBarnett; Chronicle Books; Little, Brown, Books for Young Readers