As people across the country continue to social distance in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some celebrities are getting creative to entertain their homebound followers.
The Var Burton and Dolly Parton? They want to read books to you.
Monday, Country Music Legend Dolly Parton announced “Goodnight with Dolly”, a weekly show where Parton reads a children’s book from his imaginative library.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book donation program that ships free books to children who are not yet of school age.
The 10-week program kicks off Thursday at 7 p.m. EST and aims to comfort and reassure children during shelter-in-place orders, according to a news release.
The first book Parton will read? “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper, the release reads.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but the timing just never felt right,” Parton said in the statement. “I think it’s pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and share some love. It’s an honor 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.
The program will be available on the Imagination Library, Dolly Parton, World Choice Investments and Dollywood channels, according to the release.
LeVar Burton — actor and executive producer of PBS’s “Reading Rainbow” — also plans to read to those social distancing, and he’s getting help from big names in literature to make it happen.
“I was break my brain for about a week trying to figure out how to do a live version of #LeVarBurtonReads“, he wrote in a tweet on March 24. “I thought that during this difficult time, I could help by reading aloud to people who could use a diversion for themselves and their families.”
Burton has a podcast called LeVar Burton bed in which he reads stories by authors such as Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami and Ray Bradbury.
After Burton mentioned that he was looking for news in the public domain to avoid legal trouble, Neil Gaiman replied to Burton’s tweet giving him “blanket permission” to broadcast reading Gaiman’s stories.
“You, my good sir, are my hero! Burton responded. “send you love and yours in these turbulent times.
HarperStacks, the school library hub of HarperCollins, also responded, giving Burton permission to read any of the HarperCollins children’s books titles online until May 31.
Burton’s first livestream will be at 9 p.m. EST on Friday, he announced on Twitter. He will read a selection from “master storyteller” Neil Gaiman.
This story was originally published March 31, 2020 4:17 p.m.