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Washington figures name the book they most enjoyed reading to their children

Sunday, March 21, 2010; BW09

Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president, Marriott International, and Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball"

Our three kids are now in their 20s, but we read aloud to them every night when they were young. We loved the Babar series, all of James Marshall's irreverent picture books (like "Miss Nelson is Missing!"). When we graduated to chapter books, we read everything by Roald Dahl (especially "The BFG") and Jules Feiffer. We'd pick them out at Politics and Prose Bookstore and show up for all the author signings. The kids still have those books on their bedroom bookshelves. Fond memories!

Mike Miller, forward for the Washington Wizards

Whatever their favorite book is, that's what I read to them. For a while it was "Batman" and then "Spiderman." In a profession like this, where you are away from home a lot, the only time you can get a 5- or 6-year-old to settle down is at night. It's a really important 30-45 minutes, and I try to take advantage of it.

Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools

When I was in middle school, I read Esther Hautzig's "The Endless Steppe," the story of a young Jewish girl about my age, living a charmed life in Poland until she and her family are deported to a Soviet labor camp in Siberia during World War II. Her family has to pull together like never before to overcome unbelievable poverty, fear and sadness. I lost count of how many times I read that book! Later, I read it with my 10-year-old daughter, who loved it, and I can't wait to share it with my youngest daughter.

Jim Lehrer, host "The NewsHour"

My favorite book was "Goodnight Moon," by Margaret Wise Brown. I loved watching the eyes pop and the grins hold from the first word and picture to the last. My three kids went with me all the way through the story and the magic.

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

"Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak, is a family favorite!

Diane Rehm, host "The Diane Rehm Show"

The book I (we) would nominate is "Peter Rabbit," by Beatrix Potter. My husband, John, did most of the reading in those early days, but Peter's plight always seemed so real, so appealing and so understandable to the children when they were young. I can still see all of us, sitting on a rocking chair in the bedroom, reading and rocking, cradled in one another's arms.

Benjamin Cardin, U.S. Senator (Maryland)

We loved "The Cat in the Hat" and anything by Dr. Seuss because they are creative and each one has a message. It can be hard to keep up the energy and enthusiasm while reading many children's books, but Dr. Seuss books are interesting to adult readers as well as to children.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, U.S. Congresswoman (District of Columbia)

Johnny Norton's favorite book, by far, was the "Book of Greek Myths," by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. I read from it most nights to Johnny and his sister, Katherine. (Kathy has Down Syndrome, so Johnny chose most of the books.) I loved reading the Greek myths to my children because they listened so intently, no matter how familiar the stories were from previous readings. I gave the book to Johnny years ago. Recently, I asked him why he loved it so. "Oh, Mom," he said, "how am I to remember?"

Susan E. Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations

My kids and I always crack up together reading Judith Viorst's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" -- a book from my childhood that I never get tired of. I love the rhythmic refrain of that perfect title and the way its fun, fanciful language perfectly captures the way kids talk. They love how it empathizes with everyday frustrations, and we all love the reminder that, sometimes, life's just like that.

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