Best Celebrity Readers According to Military Families

March 25, 2020

Across the country, parents adjusting to a new normal of social distancing and homeschooling have been scrambling to find online resources to keep kids busy. Children’s authors and celebrities are stepping in to help, reading popular kids’ books out loud through YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

United Through Reading has been connecting physically separated military parents and kids for thirty years through video-recorded storytime, so we know the power of the read-aloud experience. We have created these connections for 2.4 million military family members, and our App, launched in 2019, will create connections for even more through digitally recorded storytime.

We know that reading at least 20 minutes everyday with a child has long-lasting benefits for both the child and the parent or special adult in their lives, so it’s exciting to see so many jumping in to provide these connections in challenging times. We are so excited to welcome our new read-aloud friends that we thought we’d share some of our favorites.

Josh Gad/ Courtesy of Josh Gad Facebook



Josh Gad has started #GadBookClub, where he reads a new book each night at 7:30PM ET on his Twitter. Gad told The Hollywood Reporter that the idea came to him when thinking about how he reads to his two young daughters, ages 6 and 9.

“[T]he thing that I do every night before they go to bed is I read to them. And the thing that I have been doing every week of the year up until now is I have been going to their school on Fridays and reading Harry Potter to the kids.” He said after so many were ordered to stay home and his girls’ school closed, “I felt robbed of that.”

#GadStoryTime is particularly great because he doesn’t just read, he performs. So far Gad has read Olivia; The Bear and the Piano; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Iggy Peck, Architect. Josh, we hope that you read one of our favorites at UTR, Germs Are Not for Sharing!


Goodnight with Dolly

A longtime literacy advocate, Dolly Parton founded her Imagination Library in 1995 to give free high-quality books to children in the Tennessee county where she grew up. It has since expanded to children across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. For 10 weeks starting on April 2, Dolly will read books weekly from her Imagination Library to reassure children during shelter-in-place mandates. Goodnight with Dolly will be live at 7 pm EST every week for a classic story read by an American icon and book lover.


Storyline Online, a children’s literacy program of SAG-AFTRA Foundation, features more than 50 books read by celebrities. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, and Betty White. Each book includes a supplemental curriculum developed by educators for teachers and parents, including art and writing activities.


Beloved authors have taken to social media to read their own works. These stories take on new meaning with the voices and excitement of their authors. Here is just a short list of the authors and the books they read.

MLB Players

In 2018, MLB Players Trust and United Through Reading partnered together and MLB players read to military kids while aboard the USS William P Lawrence and USS Wayne E Meyer. You can watch Whit Merrifield, Bobby Bonilla, Dan Otero, and Junior Guerra read on our IGTV.

Military Leaders

United Through Reading has been honored to have senior military leaders read a number of books over the years for our military families at large. You can watch Retired Sergeant Major Daniel Dailey reading Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure on our Facebook or YouTube.

You can also watch service members from around the world reading Guess How Much I Love You.

We hope that these videos inspire you to make your own video with the United Through Reading App so that the children in your life can watch you read them over and over next time you’re called away from home.

Our App brings shared digital storytime to every single military family. The UTR App is a fun, free, and secure way to stay connected through the read aloud experience, particularly in these difficult times. Servicemembers download the App (through the Apple App Store or Google Play), record a story, and then head to our site to get another book to record, and send to family.