The "Sean Reads Aloud" Series

Sean Reads Aloud

Hello and Welcome to my, "Sean Reads Aloud" book series campaign!!!

I love to read. In fact, reading aloud is one of the most fun and rewarding activities ever.

We are raising money to create a formal, subscription based series of readings (Childrens literature, Science Fiction, Biographies, etc.). To begin, all of the books will be in the Public Domain. The initial money is to cover all of the technical costs associated with creating this material. A good portion of the proceeds from the subscriptions combined with the money you designate with your contribution, will be put toward the Sean and Christine Astin designated literacy charity or program.

Our goal is to begin with a base of 300 subscribers and we are well on our way.

My undergraduate degrees in History and English have been gathering dust. I’ve longed to find an audience that would wander with me through a series of books. I want you to enjoy these stories with your children or your parents or your friends or in the quiet of your own ears and spirit or all of the above. I expect us to go on adventures and to learn and laugh as we go. Sometimes we should be a little scared (not too much), allow ourselves to be moved and perhaps even dare to be inspired.

The minimum amount allowed is $5, which is a perfect way to announce your desire to subscribe. The more money we raise, the more bells and whistles I’ll have to play with. Not just that, if we raise gobs of money, we can license the rights to recent and even popular titles (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Terry Pratchett's library...go on, if you can think it, I bet we can get it).

Regardless, when it gets right down to it, I plan to simply press record and then read until my hearts content. Hopefully, your heart will be content too.

As for the particulars of the platform and the format of the files, that’s yet to be determined. In the meantime, I’ve posted 3 “teaser” chapters and the first complete book on youtube for all to enjoy. For your convenience, I’ve posted the links to all of them here. I plan to record some more teasers as “advertising” for the campaign!!!

"My Father's Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett — Complete Book

“Peter Pan” by JM Barrie — Chapter 1

"The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells — Chapter 1

"Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson — Chapter 1
{Goonies & other Pirate fans unite}

Since we haven't figured out the ultimate platform or the subscription rates, it's hard to locate the appropriate way to recognize the various rewards.

$5 (GoFundMe Minimum) - A one year Subscription will be included.

$6-$499 We will put 50% of your contribution towards our literacy effort (charity).

$500 You select an approved Public Domain title for me to read.

$501-$4,999 We will put 50% of your contribution towards our literacy effort (charity).

$5,000 You become the non-exclusive "Named Sponsor" of the reading series for the first year.

**Because this is a For Profit Campaign, the money we are calling "Charity" goes straight to me and I will consider it a line item in the budget of the Reading Series. If GoFundMe dissaproves of this approach and doesn't offer a comperable alternative, we will not accept your pledge and you can reevaluate how much you want to support the project.**

As always, if you don't already, please "Like" my public facebook page:

and follow me on Twitter: @seanastin

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Below are some thoughts I had when starting this campaign:

When my Mom (Academy Award Winning Actress Patty Duke) read John Steinbeck's The Pearl aloud to me
and then Of Mice and Men, I was mesmerized. I can remember vividly how she pronounced the character's name, Coyotito and how she made Lenny sound, "I pinched their heads a little and then they were dead." I was awed by her passion for the stories and her genuine empathy for the characters.

Charlie and the Choclate Factory by Roald Dahl was my first favorite book. Again, read aloud to me by my Mom. I have only a fleeting recollection of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. But, what I do remember is the little boy's room and the box that was waiting for him. I don't know if I got impatient or she had to go to work, but I can't remember the end of that one. What I wouldn't have given to have an audiobook of her reading it aloud to me!

When we went to New Zealand, to film the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I read Tolkien's books three times. The one I remember the most, was when I read it out loud. My career has taken me many places. I've narrated documentaries and television series. I've recorded audiobooks from two versions of the Bible to the lesser title of my auto-biography. Doing voice over acting in animated shows and on video games has been so much fun and quite challenging work.

One of my favorite experiences in this realm was reading the brilliant book, A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, for the Screen Actors Guild Website. I had a ball and the response was fantastic. I often wish my own three children enjoyed listening to the books I read as much as others do, heck even as much as my wife does. She loves for me to read aloud to her. We got through so much of our college experience together reading aloud. I couldn't quite manage the Middle English of the Canterbury Tales or the arcane "prose" of Milton's Paradise Lost, but Christine loved hearing me read Voltaire's Candide, Byron, Frost and so many others. I tried to make the dense Anthologie's come to life. She could have done without me reading every single author's biography. I felt like it'd be cheating not to. I'm confident that I added the requisite flare to the description of Mary Wollestonecrafts's life's journey, for example.

It was my big brother Tom who read The Lorax to me. Dr. Seuss's anti-industrial treatise holds no less a place in my heart than J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece on the subject, I'm just better at the Lorax's voice than the Ents.

So, why this? Why now? I'm incredibly busy. But, I long to read aloud. My little brother Kevin, famously said to our Mom, "don't do the voices Mom, just read it." Some of my happiest memories in life are when my daughters let me read to them, for example, King Bidgood's in the Bathtub and He WON'T GET OUT!!!" My intensity often proves to much for them. Sure, they'll let me get the preamble to the Declaration of Independence out during homework, but when I want to dig into Thomas Pain, not so much, they have math to do.

I had the idea when we went to New Zealand and the internet was just getting going, that I would start to read books allowed and create a subscription audience for them. Over the years, I've investigated producing our own books on tape and I think we'll eventually do that.

I falied you all once before by launching a GoFundMe Campaign for my Animated Short Story about Piko, a character and story I wrote. It was pretty clear to me a few weeks in that I wasn't going to be able to promote the campaign properly and that the time horizon for seeing that dream come to fruition was too far off. It was a bummer ending that one. It’s already clear that this endeavor is completely within my control and pretty darned easy to achieve. The same night we reached our initial goal, I was able to publish the first book. So, in that sense, this campaign has already scored, now is the time to make the absolute most of it.

Which brings to mind the 25th birthday party my wife threw for me. My Father, beloved Actor and Johns Hopkins Professor, John Astin gave me a book of Rudyard Kiplings poetry. He stood in our modest little livingroom surrounded by family and friends and read aloud IF, "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same."

I'm launching this campaign for two reasons:

First, I really want to see if there is an audience (or the start of an audience) interested in listening to regular installments of my reading books aloud? I want it to be a for profit venture, so the GoFundMe platform feels like a better test of any "grassroots" interest that this idea might generate than Facebook and Twitter. When someone reaches into their pocket at pulls out 5 bucks, it means something qualitatively more than a loving and fleeting comment or retweet. I love the FB forum and how that flows, but this is about creating a "product" however rudimentary for the moment. I've set the "Goal" low because I'm really testing the actual appetite for the notion of listening to my no frills enjoyment of reading books aloud for my own pleasure and yours!!!

Second, this money will be used to establish the best subscription delivery system. I've researched, google & youtube, vimeo and others. There are pro's and cons to each and every and all. I don't have the time or the passion to do this technical and administrative work. I intend to use the money here to pay for an expert or consultant (probably doesn't need too many hours to get it done properly, but those hours cost a little something) to get everything in order. All I want to do is read. Well, read and push a few buttons, to get it out there. The minimum amount GoFundMe allows for you to contribute is $5. To me, this is simply an indication to me that you are a little more than curious. The total amount of money raised is no more important that the total number of people who indicate their support in this way. Will my twitter followers and facebook likers migrate here? Will word of mouth spread? This for profit GoFundMe campaign is the simplest way (that I already know) to test the theory. {For those who question why an actor would NEED money from the public...the answer is that I don't. I want to know how much the public needs this!!!}

My intention would be to do (at the very least) one book per month. As the project takes shape, I envision different ways of approaching what titles and when. Perhaps a children's literature cluster or a military history trifecta (Winnie the Pooh or Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography. That kind of thing).

Once this effort is up and running, with a respectable subscribership, I will donate some portion of the proceeds to a worthy literacy project. A decade ago, Christine and I established a 2 year scholorship at Los Angeles Valley College courtesy of Verizon's Literacy Champions program. We would love to have the opportunity to direct money for that sort of thing again.

By way of a preview, I've recorded, with no prep, no effects, just me pressing record and reading, the first chapter of H.G. Wells The Time Machine. It's way more accessible than I remember. I chose it for two reasons. First, it is a title that is in the public domain. Until this effort can afford to pay for books to read (Terry Pratchett's Disc World series, The Lord of the Rings etc...) I intend to dig into dozens of books in the public domain (Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Metamorphasis by Franz Kafka, War and Peace, Peter Pan and on and on...oh, I expect to take requests!!!). Second, I chose The Time Machine because it's Science Fiction and thanks to a number of show's I've worked on, I think I gots me a wee bit'o Sci-Fi street cred. The other titles are explained above.

That is quite certainly all for now. If you've read down this far, for pete sake I'm pretty sure you want to contribute :-)))

Respectfully & Gratefully Yours,
Sean Astin
  • Toni Lauderbaugh 
    • $5 
    • 68 mos
  • Toni Lauderbaugh 
    • $5 
    • 69 mos
  • Jenny Johnson 
    • $10 
    • 70 mos
  • Joe Passarelli 
    • $25 
    • 70 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 70 mos
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Sean Astin 
Los Angeles, CA
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