Michelle Obama read aloud one of her beloved children’s books on Monday, broadcast live to hundreds of thousands of people stuck at home. The virtual story hour was the first in a four-week series called “Mondays with Michelle Obama.”
In partnership with PBS Kids, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books, Mrs. Obama, the former first lady, said she would share some of her favorite children’s books, give children the opportunity to practice their reading and give to families much-needed a break during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As a child, I loved to read aloud,” she says. said in a press release. “And when I became a parent, I found such joy in sharing the magic of storytelling with my own children — and later, as first lady, with children everywhere.”
In the first episode of the series, Mrs. Obama read “The Gruffalo,” a book about a mouse who uses her wits and imagination to outsmart other animals in the woods.
She will be reading “There’s a Dragon in Your Book,” “Miss Maple’s Seeds” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in the coming weeks, according to PBS.
The readings will be broadcast on the PBS Kids Facebook page and YouTube channel and on the Penguin Random House Facebook page every Monday at noon EST
The Obamas have spoken about how the books have influenced their lives. Mrs. Obama’s memoir “Becoming”, published in November 2018, has been translated into more than 20 languages and has made bestseller lists around the world.
While he was president, Barack Obama read “Where the Wild Things Are” one of his personal favorites, to the kids on the White House lawn at the annual Easter Egg Roll. In 2011, Mrs. Obama read the book to children at the Royal Castle Child Development Center in New Orleans as part of its “Let’s Move” initiative.
Amid the pandemic, parents are trying to work from home while homeschooling children who grew up in an age of planned play dates, busy schedules and screen time. Children are bored, miss their friends and become increasingly anxious about their loved ones catching the coronavirus.
Many children’s publishers offer virtual learning opportunities to fill the void. Zoos and aquariums have moved to virtual tours and webcams. Artists and actors are events broadcast live. And other celebrities and public figures are using their time at home to livestream virtual storytimes.
LeVar Burton, who hosted the PBS program “Reading Rainbow” for over two decades, aired a read series on Twitter since April 3. On Mondays, he reads for the children; Wednesday, for young adults; and Friday, for adults. And Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is holding a children’s story time six days a week since April 15 as part of her YouTube series, “Storytime with Fergie and Friends.”