Children around the world may not be able to visit their local library, but former first lady Michelle Obama is ensuring they can enjoy their favorite books at home.
Obama announced on April 17 that she would host a weekly virtual storytime every Monday, through May 11. She will read a classic children’s book live on PBS KIDS and Penguin Random House’s Facebook and YouTube channels, and the livestream of each episode will be available online immediately after.
Obama kicked off "Mondays With Michelle" on Monday with the book The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
"As a little kid, I loved to read aloud," Obama 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 then later, as first lady, with kids everywhere."
The education advocate will read There's a Dragon in Your Book, Miss Maple's Seeds, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, throughout the month.
Obama’s series is part of Penguin Random House's Facebook and YouTube literacy initiative, "Read Together, Be Together" and PBS Kids’ "Read-Along." The efforts aim to encourage parents to read with their children and help them learn while social distancing through virtual tools and digital events.
I can't wait to share the magic of storytelling with kids everywhere by reading a beloved children's book every Monday with @PBSKIDS and @Penguinrandom.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 20, 2020
I hope you’ll tune in today at 12PM ET as I read "The Gruffalo" on @PBSKIDS's YouTube channel and Facebook page! pic.twitter.com/6sDVovw42X
Parents are now educating their children at home as 91% of students around the world are out of school due to school closings in 191 countries due to COVID-19. Reading aloud to children has a range of cognitive benefits and can help them describe their feelings better, which is especially beneficial during a crisis.
"At this time when so many families are under so much stress, I’m excited to give kids a chance to practice their reading and hear some wonderful stories (and to give parents and caretakers a much-needed break)," Obama said.
"Mondays With Michelle" is one of Obama’s several education initiatives to support children’s education. She also starred in an episode of YouTube’s Creators for Change series in March to highlight the barriers girls face to attend school.