"It was just a matter of wanting to step into the moment," the actor told CBS This Morning on Monday

By Sam Gillette
April 06, 2020 12:42 PM
Advertisement
LeVar Burton
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. “We Can Get Them for You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman.

These are some of the stories that LeVar Burton, the beloved host of PBS’ Reading Rainbow, has been reading aloud on Twitter livestream in order to cheer up kids and adults stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was just a matter of wanting to step into the moment,” Burton, 63, told CBS This Morning on Monday. “Recognizing where we are and wanting to make a contribution. And I thought, ‘Well, I can read, so let me do that.'”

On Wednesday, Burton sent Twitter into an excited frenzy when he announced that he would perform readings for children, teens and adults three times a week starting on April 3. The actor will read kids’ books on Mondays at 12 p.m. ET, YA books on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. , and adult-focused stories on Fridays at 9 p.m. as part of “LeVar Burton Reads.”

“I had seen musicians and deejays step into the moment and bring their talents to this opportunity to make people feel a little better while we’re all locked down,” he told the outlet. “And my family at Stitcher, where I do my podcast, they suggested I go for public domain material and I just wasn’t finding anything that I was compelled to want to read.”

“I was venting about my frustrations about finding material and I got a tweet from Neil Gaiman saying, ‘LeVar, you can use any of my stories that you want.’ And that sort of [opened] the floodgates,” Burton continued. “And so I decided, rather than trying to find one public domain story that fits for the whole family, let me do readings aimed at the different members of the household.”

READING RAINBOW, LeVar Burton
Reading Rainbow‘s LeVar Burton
| Credit: PBS/Courtesy Everett

RELATED VIDEO: How Your Favorite Celebrities Have Stepped up to Help Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

The actor explained that so far he’s selected Hoffman and Gaiman’s stories to read, as well as Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds and his own children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm.

“For these times, I want to read things that comfort, things that make us laugh, nothing dark or dystopian,” Burton told CBS This Morning. “What makes a good story to read is the one that you sit down and read by yourself or share with others. Stories have a tendency to bring us together, much in the same way that music does. And this is designed to be an effort, like all reading aloud, that is food for the soul.”

Gaiman is in agreement.

“I love waking up and discovering that this is actually happening,” the author tweeted on April 1. “[LeVar Burton], you are such a Good Thing at a hard time.”