Bored at home? Catch famous authors reading out their best stories for you

To help children cope during their period of confinement, authors of famous children books will conduct live reading sessions

By Pallavi Ghosh
Published: Monday 06 April 2020

Almost 90 per cent of the world’s students are now affected by nationwide school closures due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – that’s more than 1.5 billion children and young people. With social distancing and self isolation being practiced across the globe, the International Publishers Association along with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) started an initiative called Read the World on April 2, 2020. The initiative is aimed at helping the young cope with the period of confinement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Children’s lives and routines have been turned upside down in just a few short weeks,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Even when the outside world is out of bounds for now, reading can remind children and young people that the transportive power of books is unlimited,” added Fore.

The first reading session featuring the Italian author Elisabetta Dami kicked off at 8:30 pm (IST). Dami, best known for her books narrating the adventures of Geronimo Stilton, a mouse who lives in Mouse City. The author read chapters from one of the books of the “The Kingdom of Fantasy” series.

During the nearly 15-minute reading session, Dami reminded her young readers to take measures prescribed by the WHO like washing hands with soap and water regularly, avoid stepping out, maintaining safe distance when around others and covering the mouth while sneezing or coughing to remain uninfected from the corona virus. Regular exercise during confinement was also a way to ensure one's physical and mental fitness, the author said.

“We understand the fear and anxieties many feel and know how the joy of reading can stimulate young minds, ease tensions and provide hope,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

Beginning on the occasion of the 53rd International Children’s Book Day, the initiative plans to conduct more of such reading sessions by popular children’s authors. At the end of her reading session, Dami challenged David Walliams of UK who has been recording some his much-loved stories and sharing audio links on the social media platform Twitter.

This project is expected to continue until the end of the COVID-19 crisis, according to its organizers.

“We are staying flexible in terms of authors in order to accommodate any useful offers that arise. This means we haven't set a time limit, and we will try to keep going at least until the end of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ben Steward of International Publishers Association.

Among the upcoming readers are Cressida Cowell, UK Children's Laureate and writer of “How to Train Your Dragon”, and Fatima Sharafeddine who is one of the Arab world's biggest names in children's literature. While Cowell will be reading on her YouTube channel on April 7,  Sharafeddine will be the first to conduct a reading session in Arabic the day after.

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