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Posted at 03:41 PM ET, 03/02/2011

Michelle Obama reads Dr. Seuss to kids, celebs at NEA's Read Across America kickoff

Michelle Obama, with Arne Duncan, has a good laugh over “Green Eggs and Ham.” (Evan Vucci/AP)
Michelle Obama would not, could not, in the rain, she said Wednesday.

Speaking to elementary school children, the first lady affirmed that she similarly would not, could not with a mouse -- or in a house, or on a train.

"I do not," she said firmly, "like green eggs and ham."

Spring is just around the corner -- do we detect the fresh scent of photo-op in the air? Yes, and it was a rich one: The NEA's "Read Across America" kickoff at the Library of Congress, on what just happened to be the late Dr. Seuss's 107th birthday. So, an array of attractive celebrities (Jessica Alba, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver), a gaggle of D.C. area school kids in floppy Cat in the Hat hats, and the first lady resplendent in pink and orange.

Message: Reading is cool. Hey, Barack does it.

"The president reads so much," his wife told the giggling throngs, reports our colleague Aaron Leitko. "He knows all of the facts."

And kids -- don't watch so much TV!

"Guess how many TV sets there were in my house when I was a kid?" asked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"Eight?" one kid helpfully guessed. Wrong: The answer was zero. "I used to have to sneak over to my friend's house to watch TV," Duncan explained.

Jessica Alba taking her turn to read to the kids. (Evan Vucci/AP)
No offense intended, we're sure, to the TV personalities convened for the occasion: Reality hosts Padma Lakshmi and Camilla Alves, "Real Housewife" Adrienne Maloof, actors Bridget Moynahan and Mehcad Brooks, and MSNBC correspondents (hey, is that allowed?) Luke Russert and Norah O'Donnell, among others, who later were each assigned a small group of the kids for a book-reading session.

But first, it was "Green Eggs & Ham," read tag-team style by Duncan and Obama, he taking the Sam I Am role and she reading the part of, you know, the other guy in the book. They kept it pretty dignified, no hokey voices or dramatic gestures.

And now, "We have another special guest!" shouted NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

"Obama?" a kid guessed hopefully. No, said Van Roekel, "the president is not in the building." Just some guy in a Cat in the Hat costume.

By  |  03:41 PM ET, 03/02/2011

Categories:  44: Obama's Washington, First Family

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