Taika Waititi at the 92nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Los Angeles. Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File
Taika Waititi at the 92nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Los Angeles. Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

Celebs are reading from our favourite childhood books and we can’t get enough

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published May 21, 2020

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It has become a popular occurrence during the lockdown to see celebrities do small things to keep their fans entertained. 

From Jason Derulo’s dancing and weird challenges on TikTok, Halle Berry and couple action actresses doing stunt challenges, and even the "Verzuz" challenges, which sees musicians take each other on with their discography, on Instagram. 

Naturally reading would form part of the activities celebrities have taken to doing during this time. 

I’m a Potterhead. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 11. 

When I realised the school library only had the first of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I petitioned the librarian to get more of the books. I was obsessed with the series and when the final book of the series, Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007, 19-year-old me queued from 5am to be one of the first to read the book. 

So imagine my delight when I got an email from Wizarding World, which is the superfan website for Potter fans, with a notification that Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the films, was reading the first chapter of the first book.

I stopped everything, clicked play and watched as he read, and the inner 11 year old me, delighted at the rare opportunity. Since then we have seen other cast members read from the Harry Potter series, to the delight of fans.

Artwork of the "Roald Dahl - James and the Giant Peach with Taika Waititi and Friends" fundraising storytelling series is seen in this undated handout illustration. Picture: Reuters
British actor, Andy Serkis raised more than £283,000 for charity by reading The Hobbit, by South African born author, JRR Tolkien, in full on a live stream. More than 650,000 people worldwide tuned in to watch him read. 

Earlier on before the world went on a lockdown, Frozen star, Josh Gad started reading and performing children’s books on his social media, to help parents who were having to deal with homeschooling their children, while also having to work from home. 

And now even more stars are willing to jump in on the trend and this time it looks like a major production.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, Taika Waititi, who will soon direct the next "Star Wars" film, has asked Hollywood A-Listers to join him in an epic reading of the Roald Dahl classic, "James and the Giant Peach".

The list sounds like the guest list at the Oscars.

Academy Award winners; Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Eddie Redmayne, Lupita Nyong'o; nominees  Benedict Cumberbatch, Cynthia Erivo, and other major Hollywood stars like Mindy Kaling, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Cara Delevingne, Ruth Wilson Sarah Paulson, Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Kumail Nanjiani, Beanie Feldstein and Josh Gad, have been some of the names attached to this project. 

The readathon, titled “James and the Giant Peach with Taika Waititi and Friends” is already streaming on the Roald Dahl YouTube page, and kicked off on Monday (May 18). Episodes drop every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6pm BST (7pm CAT). There will be ten episodes of the series in total. 

The readathon is in aid of Partners in Health, which is a charity providing healthcare for people in the most vulnerable parts of the world. 

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