Oprah and Barack and Michelle Obama are just a few of many famous Chicagoans participating in the Chicago Public Library's "Live From the Library" virtual reading series.
Oprah's reading of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy was posted on May 18; last week, the Obamas read The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds.
Watch the full videos and learn more below.
The Chicago Public Library's new video reading series has landed some of the most influential figures in the city's recent history. Both Oprah and Barack and Michelle Obama have selected beloved kid's books to read as part of the "Live From the Library" program, which has already featured a group of famous Chicagoans.
On May 18, Oprah read The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. Sitting outside under her oak trees—which she calls "one of my favorite places on Earth"—Oprah enthusiastically read the book, giving each character their own distinct voice. At the end, she spoke about why Mackesy's story resonated with her so deeply.
"I love this story so much because, as Charlie says in the very beginning of the introduction, it's for people who are 80 and eight. It's timeless, because it teaches us all to be grateful for what we have," Oprah said. "One of my most favorite lines is when he's asked whether or not his glass is half empty or half full, and he says he's just happy to have a glass."
Last week, Michelle and Barack Obama read The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds. On May 14, Mr. Obama explained that they chose the book for its illustration of "the transformative power of words."
Barack and I had so much fun reading “The Word Collector” for a family read-a-long through the @chipublib. This book is one of my favorites—it reminds me of what it was like to get lost in the magic of words as a little kid. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. pic.twitter.com/jYpv8GVZZN
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 14, 2020
"I remember my first trip to the library and how important I felt," Mrs. Obama recalled. "It was around age 4. My library card was the key that unlocked a world of knowledge and experiences."
Both Oprah and the Obamas have a history of supporting the Chicago Public Library over the years. Oprah appeared as a surprise guest at the CPL Literary Awards fundraiser back in 2010, and, as part of plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a new branch of the CPL will be built that "will provide almost every South Side resident with access to a public library."
This isn't the first kind thing Mrs. Obama has done for young readers since the coronavirus pandemic began. In partnership with PBS Kids, the former First Lady has done a weekly read along series every Monday, covering classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Miss Maple's Seeds, and The Gruffalo.
And The Word Collector author Peter Reynolds reacted excitedly to the Obamas reading his book aloud:
Thank you, Michelle & Barack! I loved your reading of my book! It made my day. I lost a dear friend last week. I had no words. Now I have some words: YOU RECHARGED MY SOUL. I remember Bill next to me during the inauguration in DC with tears streaming down his face. : ) #grateful https://t.co/MDOKRflPbw
— Peter H. Reynolds (@peterhreynolds) May 14, 2020
The "Live at the Library" project is an example of the many creative ways public libraries around the country have been adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. Many have also created online escape rooms, some of which are Harry Potter-themed. The pandemic has been particularly tough on parents of young kids, so we're sure they'll appreciate having Oprah and the Obamas in their corner.
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