We know how important it is to expose children to books at a young age, even before they know the alphabet. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that children who were read to frequently were more likely to count to 20 and write their own names than those who were not. Students who read more at home were also found to be better readers and have higher math scores. Not to mention what a great bonding experience it can be for a parent to read with their child.
A number of big names in entertainment are giving families even more books to add to their reading list. Quite a few celebrities have penned children's books, many based on their own experiences or inspired by their love of reading. They come with great messages and learning opportunities, and in some cases, the kids might just recognize the face on the jacket from their favorite movies. (Looking at you, Julie Andrews.)
If you're searching for something new to read with the youngsters in your life, consider checking out the titles below from a few multitalented actors, musicians, and athletes.
1. Kelly Clarkson
River Rose and the Magical Lullaby was inspired by (and named after) Kelly Clarkson's young daughter. The story, about a little girl who is sent into a magical dream world by her mother's voice, includes a link to the lullaby performed by the American Idol winner herself.
Clarkson told Publishers Weekly that she found writing the book more difficult than writing music. "But I know that music is one of those things that is central to life," she said. "And it's so helpful with learning. I thought it would be cute to combine the lullaby and the River Rose stories."
2. Julianne Moore
Moore's Freckleface Strawberry series, which currently features five books, began in 2007 and was inspired by the actress's childhood nickname. It comes with a valuable lesson of self-acceptance, which Moore wanted to pass on to her own children, to whom she dedicated the book.
Moore also promotes reading through the organization Project Literacy, and credits books with inspiring her passion for acting. "It's important to have a sense of individuality and a sense of community at the same time, and I feel like that's inherent in reading," she told The Huffington Post.
3. Steve Martin
You may be familiar with the actor and comedian's books for adults, but he has also published titles aimed at young readers, including Late for School, which includes audio of Martin singing the story on banjo, as well as The Alphabet From A to Y with Bonus Letter Z. It features a silly couplet for each letter of the alphabet, accompanied by illustrations by Roz Chast.
"I tried to put in words ... that sound like the letter but aren't the letter and also use different expressions of the letter," Martin told NPR of the book's educational element.
4. Danica McKellar
The former Wonder Years actress and mathematician has written several books encouraging middle and high school girls to have confidence in their math classes. Just this month, she published a book for even younger readers called Goodnight, Numbers, the first of eight in a new series.
"My whole mission is to make sure that kids never feel afraid of numbers, never feel afraid of math," McKellar told Fox News. And if she can foster a love of books at the same time, that's even better.
5. Julie Andrews
For the iconic Mary Poppins actress, writing is a family affair. Andrews has penned more than 30 books for children with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, including the Very Fairy Princess series, first published in 2010, which was inspired by her granddaughter Hope.
In an interview with American Libraries magazine, Andrews discussed the importance of encouraging children to read as an alternative to technology. "The only hope is that you can engage them enough," she said. "All it takes is one book. I mean literally one book will do it."
6. Whoopi Goldberg
The actress and comedian's Sugar Plum Ballerinas series tells the stories of several girls from different backgrounds studying at a ballet school in Harlem. "I've tried to describe all the strong girls and women that I know and bring the best of them to these characters," she told People when the first book launched.
Prior to this series, Goldberg published Whoopi's Big Book of Manners, in which she used humor to teach kids everything they need to know about being polite.
7. Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis isn't just a prolific actress — she's also a prolific children's book author, with titles going back to the '90s. Her newest book, This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From, illustrated by Curtis' longtime collaborator Laura Cornell, sends a timely message about immigration.
"This is not a political book," Curtis told American Libraries magazine. "Every person has an immigrant story in their family, and we're losing that thread. I thought it was important to connect that thread back to who we are and where we all came from."
8. Shaquille O'Neal
In 2015, the basketball legend debuted Little Shaq, inspired by his own youth, and how he learned to work through difficulties and give back to the community. In addition to teaching valuable lessons, Shaq's book will also hopefully encourage kids to put down their electronic devices.
"There are kids out there who know how to work an iPad before learning how to read," the father of six told Jimmy Fallon. That's something he hopes to change through his books.
9. Ricky Gervais
Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais brings his wild imagination to the pages of his Flanimals books, featuring various made-up creatures illustrated by Rob Steen. Gervais has published two sequels and a pop-up book. The series was inspired by Gervais' teenage habit of creating imaginary animals to make his nephew laugh, as well as his love of natural history.
"I'm always careful when I write these books not to patronize kids, which I know they do not like," Gervais told Publishers Weekly about his process of writing comedy for children.