Virtual Storytime Is All the Rage! More Celebs & Authors Are Joining the Trend

School is closed, libraries are closed, and we all have kids at home who are hungry for entertainment and attention. As much as we wish we could read to our kids all day long, we are humans with limits and other responsibilities. Authors, celebrities, and regular everyday heroes have been stepping up to help with this, offering virtual storytimes for kids stuck at home. This week Penguin Kids announced its own official contribution to this effort.

On Monday, the publisher launched Read Together, Be Together, which will feature daily live storytimes by its celebrity authors Misty Copeland, Danica McKellar, Tiffani Thiessen and Brady Smith, Scott Kelly, and B. J. Novak. At, parents will find book lists, videos, tips, and printables, provided by Penguin and Parents magazine, its partner in this effort. The program, which was initially slated for the summer, also teamed up with the literacy nonprofit First Book to donate 750,000 books to kids in need, who are suffering the most from school and library closures, not to mention the economic insecurity of their parents.

“We know from experience that kids having books and storytime at home helps create a sense of normalcy that is sorely needed in the midst of this crisis,” Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book, said in a press release. “First Book is working to ensure that kids in need across the country have books at home during this time while most are out of school.”

The organization is trying to distribute 7 million books to kids right now, and is seeking donations to help cover the cost of shipping.

Read Together, Be Together joins a number of other storytimes that began across the globe over the past two weeks. Penguin’s site Read Brightly has been hosting daily readings on its Instagram. Last week, Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams launched the Instagram account SaveWithStories, which features fellow celebs (from Noah Centineo to Kerry Washington) and children’s authors reading popular kids books aloud. The site is part of their effort to raise money for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry.

With most of these stories taking only about 5 minutes or less to read, you may be searching for all the options available to supplement your impromptu homeschooling. Check with your local library to see if they’ve got a virtual storytime set up — or go to the websites of larger library systems, like Brooklyn Public Library. Older kids might want to check out Scholastic’s new weekly virtual book fests which feature author Q&A’s, games, and even a dance party.

We also love the grassroots programs sprouting up, like this Facebook group launched by Tori Pentell, a teenager in Rhode Island, who is reading both picture books and chapter books for any kid who wants to tune in. Heck, if any of you are bored at home, we challenge you to start one of these yourself!

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Here are more ideas for how to keep kids busy when they’re stuck at home.

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