Chicago area celebs join CPL’s “Live From the Library”


Chicago Public Library announced this week’s group of celebrity readers for the Live From the Library program, featuring a combination of librarians, authors, celebrities, and notable Chicagoans, reading stories to children and families daily at 10 a.m. CST.

Actor Joe Mantegna (7/13), actress Denise Richards (7/14), and Inside Edition Chief Investigative Reporter Lisa Guerrero (7/15) will be the latest Chicago notables to read a book to children digitally through CPL’s Live From the Library program. CPL will also be launching a component for school-age children at 1 p.m. CST on Friday, July 17, called #FirstChapterFriday, with actor and author Henry Winkler.

“Our libraries are more than just buildings to check out books, they’re our community meeting places, early-education and job-training centers, and where our young people are empowered to explore their passions and pursue their dreams,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Today, that mission is more urgent than ever as our residents – particularly our children – seek new ways to grow and learn while staying safe amidst the COVID-19 crisis. ‘Live from the Library’ stands as a wonderful new resource in that effort, and I’m grateful to the librarians and notable Chicagoans for their commitment to promote literacy and open new worlds of imagination and wonder across our city’s neighborhoods.”

Live From the Library was launched with a story by CPL Commissioner Andrea Telli on April 20 and readings have continued every weekday at 10am CST on CPL’s Facebook page and Instagram page. Each day, CPL enlists librarians from the institution’s 81 branches, along with a notable public figure with a Chicago connection, to bring communities together through the love of storytelling. 

“Reading is one of the great joys in my life and as a child I would spent countless hours with a book on my lap, full of wonder about the adventures the world had to offer,” said Inside Edition Chief Investigative Correspondent and Chicago native, Lisa Guerrero, about the opportunity to participate in this popular reading program.

The Library has been fortunate to highlight videos from a great list of notable participants to this point, including Duke University Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Barack & Michelle Obama, Jeff Tweedy, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Lynch, Common, John C. Reilly, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Bonnie Hunt, Keke Palmer, Michael Shannon, Senator Tammy Duckworth, Cardinal Blase Cupich of The Archdiocese of Chicago, Suze Orman, former Chicago Bear Israel Idonije, Chicago Blackhawk Zack Smith, Loyola University’s stars of the Final Four Sister Jean and Coach Porter Moser, and several others. 

The program has also tapped into many of Chicago’s cultural institutions throughout, such as The Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Lookingglass Theatre, as well as the city’s professional sports franchises. Several cast members from NBC’s trio of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med, as well as other current and former films and television shows based in Chicago, continue to participate as well.

View previously released videos at HERE. 

As this initiative continues through the summer, CPL is excited that Chicago area native Joe Mantegna, Denise Richards and Lisa Guerrero, as well as author Henry Winkler, will also be participating in this campaign. Others to watch out for this summer include Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child, Rhymefest, Michael Peña, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, Tamron Hall, Jennifer Beals, Kel Mitchell, and some notable surprises along the way.

CPL launched “Live from the Library” in response to the COVID-19 epidemic that closed all libraries for the first time in over 150 years. While the branches have since reopened, it will be a while before libraries are able to provide large, in-person programs. Chicago Public Library will continue to provide “Live From the Library” and other digital programming throughout the summer, in order to provide equal access to information, ideas and knowledge to children in Chicago through its virtual reading programs, learning courses, e-books and other online resources.

“As a librarian, I can tell you that nothing can replace a child’s happiness and the invaluable lessons learned when adults read books with them,” said CPL Commissioner Andrea Telli. “We know that reading books with children is the best way to encourage a lifelong love of books and Live From the Library demonstrates a crucial step towards ensuring that the library remains accessible for all even when the building access is limited.”

Starting Friday, July 17, Chicago Public Library will add a new component to this program, featuring prominent middle-grade authors, reading a chapter from their books and offer writing tips and prompts to school age children once a week through #FirstChapterFriday. This program will kick off on July 17th with author and actor Henry Winkler, followed on July 24 by local author Jasmine Warga!  Teens are also now able to explore themes in Young Adult Literature with significant YA Authors through weekly “Speak On It” moderated discussions on Wednesday afternoons.