By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Mark Ruffalo, Uma Thurman and rapper Common traded their scripts and lyrics for Dr. Seuss classics Thursday for a celebrity reading at Midtown’s main New York Public Library branch.
The event, which was part of the national "Read Across America Campaign" to encourage kids to get excited about books brought together hundreds of kids from the Harlem Children's Zone and other city schools for story-time courtesy of the famous readers.
Ruffalo began with a rousing rendition of "The Lorax," complete with sound effects, after leading the kids in a giant scream. He said the Seuss classic is his 6-year-old daughter's favorite book.
Common, meanwhile, had kids' elbows pressed against the stage as he read the dramatic "Green Eggs and Ham," while Uma Thurman lent some inspiration with an animated telling of "Oh, the Places You’ll Go!"
In addition to the readings, the building's iconic lions also got some company Thursday — from a Lorax, Thing One and Thing Two — with the unveiling of a giant 26-foot-tall art installation that spells the word "READ" in red letters on the library's steps.
The letters are filled with 25,000 Dr. Seuss books, which will eventually be donated to city schools.
"I’m a champion reader!” boasted Jayla Giordano, 5, whose mom brought her to the event from New Jersey along with three of her siblings, as she waited on a giant carpet covered with pillows for the event to begin.
Lauren Jimeson, who runs the A Mommy in the City blog, said her 18-month-old daughter, Harlan, is already getting into books.
"I’m a very big advocate of reading," she said.
Laysha Ward, a spokeswoman for Target, which sponsored the event along with the National Education Association, said the company will also be holding a free in-store reading at its Harlem location, on Saturday Feb. 26, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
"We're here to celebrate education and make reading fun," she said.