Josh Gad Launches Book Club With Live Readings for Children: "This Is Something That Is Bringing Comfort"

"I am grateful it is touching so many people and giving folks 20 minutes respite from the grind that is the constant barrage of horrible updates that we are getting on these devices right now," he says.

Josh Gad wants to give fans of all ages a distraction during such a stressful and uncertain time due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he is picking up a good book — actually, numerous books. 

Last week, the Frozen star began sharing children's books via social media, starting with Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer. Gad, of course, does not simply read the books — he performs them. 

The #GadBookClub time, he tells The Hollywood Reporter, is just as valuable to him as he hopes it is to the thousands who tune in on Twitter and Instagram. Gad usually reads in the late afternoon and sends a tweet beforehand to notify his followers. 

"I am grateful it is touching so many people and giving folks 20 minutes respite from the grind that is the constant barrage of horrible updates that we are getting on these devices right now," he tells THR. "For me, it has been a distraction, to sit and simply read a book and not look at a screen and not think about what is happening around us."

The quick answer how Gad got the idea: anxiety, he says, highlighting last week when the number of coronavirus cases shot up across the nation, the news that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive, President Trump's bungled Oval Office address and the stock market plummeting. He also learned his daughters' school was indefinitely closed. 

"I felt like I didn't have any answers to give to the people who rely on me to give answers — namely my girls," the Beauty and the Beast star says. "I felt like I didn't know what to tell them or how to prepare them or how to distract them for the greatest disruption they'll hopefully ever know in their lives."

Continues Gad, "And the thing that I do every night before they go to bed is I read to them. And the thing that I have been doing every week of the year up until now is I have been going to their school on Fridays and reading Harry Potter to the kids. And I felt robbed of that."

Then Gad had an epiphany: There was his massive virtual audience. So, encouraged by his daughters' nanny, he put his toe in the social media water. 

"I put the idea out on Twitter not knowing if anyone would care or respond to it, and the response was much more welcoming that I had anticipated," he explains. "So I tried it out and saw that a lot of people just like me were looking for a moment to either distract themselves or their children, and I suddenly felt compelled. It is the one thing I can do while I feel so fundamentally helpless. That simple thing has meant so much to me as it seemingly has meant so much others." 

Gad has been reading since Friday and says he will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

"This is something that is bringing comfort — even if it is 10 people, that right now feels very worthwhile to me," the Olaf actor says. "And I can't tell you how many people I have heard from online who said, 'This is exactly what I needed, just to be able to walk away from my kids for 20 minutes and have a break.'" 

Gad is not alone. A number of stars — John Legend with an in-home concert, Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner's #SaveWithStories and Ben Platt's impromptu dance party — have also used their platforms to offer free entertainment to distract from the current chaotic reality. 

"That's our job," Gad says. "That is the least we can do. The real heroes right now are those keeping the world afloat. As we are all being told to stay home, doctors are fighting on the frontlines."

In closing, Gad offers the following: "One of the great things I love about this is I am not getting paid to do it. The payment I am getting for this is the joy that it is bringing families, not only domestically but around the world. These are the things that are going to make the time go by quicker than it might otherwise do. And as long as we are keeping people in their homes, we are doing our job." 

Watch some of the #GadBookTime segments below.