This morning we hosted many talented and inspirational people on our plaza in honor of Read for the Record, a campaign sponsored by the Jumpstart organization which aims to educate families on the benefits of reading to young children. Across the country today, political figures, parents, educators and celebrities alike are reading the same book out loud to children to promote awareness. First Lady Laura Bush was reading in Washington, Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the plaza before his morning meetings, and I caught up with a few other famous faces to ask them about their connections to literature and why they felt like reading for our record...
Mike Lupica, Author
Q: What does reading mean to you?
Mike: Reading, to me, is a way to start showing my four kids the magic of words and stories. It's also a wonderful connection to my children. It's really their first school, sitting and reading. My favorite time of day is reading to them at night and seeing that first spark, that magical feeling of 'what's going to happen next?'
Q: Do you remember what were the first books that you enjoyed as a kid?
Mike: I remember the Hardy Boys books. I also loved this series called the Rick Brant Science Adventure Stories, and recently I was on Amazon and I saw one of the books, so I ordered it. When it arrived I opened it up, and it had the exact same cover that they had when I used to read them, and the seal on the back was a lightning bolt. When I turned over the book and saw the lightning bolt, I felt the same thrill go through me that I used to get finding one I hadn't read in a bookstore or library.
Sonia Manzano, Author and Maria on "Sesame Street"
Q: What has reading been for you?
Sonia: Reading is an opportunity to get out of your own life and get into somebody else's.
Q: First book you read?
Sonia: The first book I read was "Charlotte's Web" - it's amazing. Such a strong story. Recently I just finished "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides which was also an incredible story.
Frank McCourt, Novelist
Q: What has reading and books meant in your life?
Frank: Everything. Books are everything. When I was growing up, they were so scarce, words were like gold. I remember when a copy of "Huckleberry Finn" showed up on my lane, and it went from house to house. Most of the books we had available to us were Victorian novels, so that was the first book that was different. I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes, English detective novels. My mother read romances, so after she finished one I would read that too. I was indiscriminate, I would have read the writing on the wall.
LL Cool J, Rapper, Actor and Writer
Q: Why is reading important?
LL: Reading is the only way to ensure a fulfilling and rich life. It fuels your imagination. It is the difference between life and death - between prosperity and squatting. I was raised in a family of teachers and readers - we had a house full of books. I can't remember the first book I read, because I was reading immediately - there was no time I was not reading. In my house there was more emphasis on reading than on education as a whole! I used to stare at the covers of books, and sometimes the covers alone are enough to fuel your imagination and get you started.