From Harry Potter at Home to Mondays with Michelle Obama — celebrity read-alouds to spark a love of books

We love stories, and even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there’s nothing like a good book that promises a couple of hours of absorption. This week, we round up celebrity read-alouds that you can tune in to. Happy reading/listening!

For more of our weekly book recommendations, click here.


 From Harry Potter at Home to Mondays with Michelle Obama — celebrity read-alouds to spark a love of books

Harry Potter at Home

Global icons record videos of themselves reading the first of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone. The first chapter is read by Daniel Radcliffe, with more readings by Stephen Fry, Eddie Redmayne, and Alia Bhatt among others.

See the videos here.

#ASonnetADay by Patrick Stewart

Receiving a positive response to his reading of Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 116’, Patrick Stewart decided to start with the first of his 154 sonnets, reading one each day.

Emilia Clarke’s poetry reading series

Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke has started a poetry reading series on her Instagram account, inviting more performers to read and talk about a poem, and discuss the work of a charity that means something to them. So far, besides her, there have been readings by Idris Elba, Helena Bonham Carter, and Andrew Scott, among others.

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The beautiful, breathtaking talent that is Andrew Scott reads for us ‘Everything is Going to be All Right’ by Derek Mahon. Andrew has asked to dedicate this to Men Against Cancer Ireland Andrew we salute you! 🕺 It comes under the prescription for need for reassurance. Here’s how it reads as written in the book @thepoetrypharmacy @thepoetryremedy There are moments in life when the banal suddenly, and quite without warning, becomes the transcendent. Perhaps a shaft of afternoon light paints a familiar view an unfamiliar gold; perhaps dust in a sunbeam or the dance of sparks above a fire transport you, for a long instant, to somewhere else altogether. The almost magical-seeming reflections of ripples on a ceiling are transfixing in just the same way. In moments like these- awe-struck moments when the ferocious beauty of the everyday catches us unawares- we are often moved to a reassessment. One flash of sunlight can be all it takes to give us the sense of possibility that can change everything. As a great sufferer from depression myself, I find a small moment like this, a sudden splash of serenity and beauty, can provide the impetus needed to run my mood around. Not completely, perhaps, and not permanently- but sometimes a small push is all any of us is waiting for. Derek Mahon’s poem ‘Everything is Going to be All Right’ describes wonderfully the feeling of that little push and reassessment. And there’s something hugely powerful, too, about its final line. When my children are suffering and I hold them in my arms, it seems to be the most natural mantra in the world: Everything will be all right. There’s a comfort to those words, whether or not they’ll prove to be true. OF course, some wounds don’t heal, and some wrongs go un-righted. But in the grander sense, in the everything sense, things to tend to be all right. Too often, our pain is either in our heads or magnified beyond all proportion. If we can learn to manage it, if we can find that oasis of calm in the reflection of the waves, then we might find that out problems are not as all-consuming as we imagined. Thank you thank you Andrew!

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Andy Serkis’ Hobbitathon

In an effort to raise funds for NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings, Andy Serkis, on 8 May, embarked on a 11-hour live storytelling endeavour, reading the entire The Hobbit. To help the charities, Harper Collins and the Tolkien Estate have given permission for ‘Chapter Five: Riddles in the Dark’, to be released on YouTube.

This video will only be available till 14 June.

James and the Giant Peach with Taika and Friends

In support of Partners in Health, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi reads Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach across 10 episodes. Joined by guest readers on each episode, videos release every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Save with Stories

To help the almost 30 million vulnerable children in the US who depend on school for food and are now struggling because of COVID-19 related school closures, Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams launched Save with Stories in March on Instagram. The account now has over 250 posts, of different celebrities reading children’s books, not only to entertain kids while they’re at home, but also to support Save the Children and No Kid Hungry.

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“The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark” by Ken Geist, illustrated by Julia Gorton (published by @scholasticinc) . THIRTY MILLION CHILDREN rely on school for food. Responding to the needs of kids during school closures, @savethechildren and @nokidhungry have a new fund @SAVEWITHSTORIES to support food banks, and mobile meal trucks, and community feeding programs with funds to do what they do best—and also—with educational toys, books, and worksheets to make sure brains are full, as well as bellies. . If you can manage a one time gift of $10, please text SAVE to 20222. If another amount would work better for you, please visit our website—link in bio. There is no maximum and there is no minimum—together we will rise and together we can help. . Thank you and stay safe. XX #SAVEWITHSTORIES

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Mondays with Michelle Obama

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has been reading picture books for children every Monday since 20 April. “I’m thrilled to share some of my favourite children’s books and give kids an opportunity to practise their reading (while giving families a much-needed break!),” she said in a tweet.

Julie’s Library

Julie Andrews, with her daughter, bestselling children’s author and educator Emma Walton Hamilton, launched the podcast called Julie’s Library in April. Aided with sounds, music, activities, and special guests, they read their favourite children’s books, with the podcast aiming to inspire conversation and a lifelong love for reading.

Listen here.

Tom Hardy and CBeebies Bedtime Stories 2020

When Tom Hardy began reading aloud for CBeebies Bedtime Stories back in 2016, it proved to be incredibly popular among young fans. As coronavirus crisis imploded, the Mad Max actor decided to return with new readings to keep children engaged during a difficult and confusing time (while also giving their parents a break). His weeklong “storytelling residency”,  from 27 April to 1 May, including titles like The Problem With Problems (by Rachel Rooney and Zehra Hicks) and Under the Same Sky (by Robert Vescio and Nicky Johnston).

Goodnight with Dolly

Tucked into bed, Dolly Parton reads bedtime stories for children, chosen from Imagination Library books. “I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honour for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think,” she says about the 10-week initiative.

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