Virtual storytimes for kids: Authors, publishers and venues go online

New storyimes go live every day!

Written by
Oliver Strand
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl
Courtesy: Roald Dahl HQ

Just because you're staying in doesn't mean an end to storytime! From the Brooklyn Public Library taking its readings to Facebook, to live demonstrations by famous picture-book authors, to a large selection of many of the greatest actors of our time reading some of the best books for kids and books about race that celebrate diversity and inclusion, you can have an amazing storytime for kids right at home. 

Along with classes for kids, these virtual storytimes will keep young minds sharp—and parental minds sane.  

James and Giant Peach with Taika and Friends

WHERE AND WHEN: Via the Facebook Page of Roald Dahl HQ

The fantastical children's classic by Roald Dahl will be read cover to cover by a stellar lineup including Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nick Kroll, Ryan Reynolds, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Cara Delevingne and others, and directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi—who is currently working on Roald Dahl projects for Netflix.

Mondays with Michelle Obama

WHERE AND WHEN: Via the Facebook Page and YouTube Channel of PBS Kids on Mondays at noon

The former First Lady will read some of the most beloved picture books in children's lit.

Celebrities Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

WHERE AND WHEN: Via the Harry Potter at Home website

Potterheads, get ready: Celebrities will read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone one chapter at a time starting May 4. The all-star lineup was kicked off by Daniel Radcliffe reading "Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived." He'll be followed by Stephen Fry, David Beckham, Dakota Fanning and others. The videos will be archived on Harry Potter at Home, and will be made available in audiobook form for free on Spotify Kids.

Thank you Thursdays! from Mo Willems

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the Kennedy Center website every Thursday in May at 1pm

The author and illustrator behind Knuffle Bunny and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, will help your tiny artist express gratitude with Thank You Thursdays!, a new online series from the Kennedy Center and Disney Publishing.

Hans Christian Andersen Storytime Online 

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the Hans Christen Andersen Storytelling Center's Facebook Page and YouTube Channel every Saturday at 11am

One of the most beloved storytelling traditions in NYC is now online! In previous years, you could bring your little ones to the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park for an hour of storytelling every Saturday at 11 am—this year, the readings will be held online on until public gatherings are permitted in Central Park.

Drag Queen Story Hour

WHERE AND WHEN: See listings for venues and times

Here's the deal: Kids love Drag Queen Story Hour—the dress-up, the drama, the stage presence. These online story hours will be a hit with the little ones! 

Dav Pilkey at Home

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Scholastic and the Library of Congress every Friday at 8 am

Dav Pilkey, author of the Captian Underpants and Dog Man series, is posting a free online video series featuring read-a-louds, drawing lessons and other kid-friendly fun. Remember, "Never underestimate the power of underwear!" 

Julie's Library from Julie Andrews and American Public Media

WHEN AND WHERE: The program will launch April 29

Julie Andrews and her daughter, writer and educator Emma Walton Hamilton, will launch the storytime podcast Julie's Library on April 29. 


WHEN AND WHERE: Via Instagram or Facebook every day at 3pm

Every day a celeb will read a book on his or her Instagram or Facebook at 3pm. The lineup is terrific—Alan Cumming reads on Thursday, April 9!—and you'll find a complete schedule with links here.

Story Time! from Penguin Kids

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Instagram and Facebook every weekday at 11am 

Authors and illustrators published by Penguin Kids will read their stories every weekday at 11am.

Virtual Storytime with Books are Magic

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Instagram every Saturday and Sunday at 11am

Author and bookseller Emma Straub is keeping the literary momentum going even while her Cobble Hill storefront remains closed. On Saturdays and Sundays at 11am—when she typically hosts storytimes for kids—Straub will hold a live picture book-reading for little bibliophiles.

HarperKids from Home 

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube every weekday at noon. 

The team at HarperKids will hold a storytime with read-alouds and activities pure entertainment every day at noon.

Storytime with the Met

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Facebook and YouTube every Thursday at noon

The Met Museum has taken storytime online with this weekly reading.

Snack & Read with Simon Kids

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Facebook every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2pm

Parents and children are invited to grab a snack and watch live read-alouds and activities from Simon & Schuster. This half-hour video series streams live on Facebook every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 2pm. 

The Yo-Yo Mo Show: An evening of Musical Doodling

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the Kennedy website on Sunday, May 31 at 5pm

Mo Willems and Yo-Yo Ma join forces for an evening of drawing and music from the Kennedy Center.

LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems 

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the Kennedy Center website

The first-ever Education artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center, New Yorker Mo Willems held LUNCH DOODLES every day at 1pm for three weeks, letting your kiddos peek into the mind of the author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny and other contemporary classics. Now all 15 episodes of LUNCH DOODLES are archived on YouTube.

Oliver Jeffers's readings

WHEN AND WHERE: Via Instagram every day at 2pm 

The author Oliver Jeffers will read one of his books every day at 2pm, then archive the reading on his website.

Goodnight with Dolly

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the Imagination Library every Thursday at 7pm

Dolly Parton, the Smoky Mountain Songbird, is also known as the Book Lady: The Imagination Library, a nonprofit she founded to support children's literacy, gives away more than 1 million children's books every month. Now the Queen of Country will read your little one to sleep every Thursday night.  

Jarret J. Krosoczka's "Every Day with JJK"

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the author's website every day at 2pm

Join the bestselling author of Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, National Book Award finalist Hey Kiddo and the Lunch Lady series for an all-ages drawing masterclass on his homepage and his YouTube channel.

Read & Learn with Simon Kids

WHEN AND WHERE: Via the YouTube channel for Simon Kids

Parents and educators will find videos by Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators hosted on the Simon Kids YouTube channel. On Read & Learn with Simon Kids you'll see read-alouds, drawing tutorials, and more from authors such as Tony DiTerlizzi, Hena Khan, Lita Judge and Aaron Reynolds.

Storytime Saturdays from the Children's Museum of Manhattan

WHEN AND WHERE: On the Children's Museum of Manhattan website every Saturday

Storytime Saturdays is a part of the weekly lineup of CMOM at Home, the online programming from the Children's Museum of Manhattan. There's a new video, game, sing-a-long or online activity every day!

Brooklyn Public Library

WHEN AND WHERE: The library's website and Facebook

The Brooklyn Public Library is taking its storytimes online, and live-streaming via its website and Facebook.

Storyline Online

WHEN AND WHERE: Any time via the Storyline Online website

This incredible resource from the SAG-AFTRA Foundation is an archive of hundreds of children's books read by some of the greatest actors of our time, including Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Rami Malek, Annette Bening and James Earl Jones. Yes, Storyline Online is where you can watch Betty White read Harry the Dirty Dog.


WHEN AND WHERE: Any time via Facebook

The #OperationStoryime tag on Facebook will bring you to a growing collection of children's book authors and illustrators reading their own works. Check back regularly: #OperationStorytime is adding new titles every few hours.

Disney Storytime with John Stamos

WHEN AND WHERE: Any time via Disney's YouTube channel

The Full House star reads A Kiss Goodnight, by longtime Disney collaborators Floyd Norman and Richard Sherman.

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