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Millions will join NEA’s Read Across America Day celebration on March 2

Zac Efron, Taylor Swift and cast of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax to co-chair Read Across

WASHINGTON - February 08, 2012 -

From the Truffula Trees to the Once-ler and the hoots of the Bar-ba-Loots, Dr. Seuss and the Lorax will lead the nation’s largest reading event in 2012. The 15th annual NEA’s Read Across America Day—the nationwide program that helps children discover the joy of reading—is expected to draw more than 45 million participants on Friday, March 2. 

This year the book “The Lorax” by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, will take center stage with its message of the importance of preserving the environment. Global superstars Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Danny DeVito and Ed Helms lend their vocal talents to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment and are all co-chairs of this year’s Read Across America, a first for the NEA program. Zac Efron will also serve as a celebrity guest reader at a national reading event at the New York Public Library on NEA’s Read Across America Day, March 2. The actors also recorded Read Across America PSAs encouraging people to pick up a book and read to a child. (Visit to view the PSAs)

“Every year on NEA’s Read Across America Day, the imaginations of children across the country are ignited when they open up a good book,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “‘The Lorax’ is not only entertaining to read, but it also highlights the importance of protecting our air, land and water. Our students deserve to grow and learn in a safe, healthy environment.”

The 3D-CG feature Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, an adaptation of the classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope, comes from the creators of Despicable Me and the imagination of Dr. Seuss. The animated adventure follows the journey of a 12-year-old as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams.  To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.  Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax film is the third feature created by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. The movie opens nationwide on Friday, March 2 – Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

“We are thrilled to be partnering once again with NEA on Read Across America and couldn’t be happier that ‘The Lorax’ is being featured this year,” said Susan Brandt, Dr. Seuss Enterprises President. “Not only are we emphasizing the importance of reading, but also teaching children the importance of caring for the environment.”

The book “The Lorax,” was first published in 1971 and foretold the desolation and emptiness created when nature is consumed without regard for its preservation or restoration. Many say the book was ahead of its time. Readings of “The Lorax” book and its environmental messages will be prominent in this year’s Read Across America celebrations happening in schools and libraries around the nation. 

NEA will also rev up its engines for the first ever “NEA’s Lorax Reading Tour – Driven by Mazda”– a cross-country tour to visit public schools, Mazda dealerships, and other stops to bring the gift of reading to thousands of public school students. The tour will visit more than 15 cities across the country and will also highlight some student-led school and community based environmental projects.  For each test drive of a Mazda vehicle between February 20 through April 2, 2012,  Mazda will donate $25, up to $1 million in total, to benefit public school libraries in need across the United States.

NEA’s Read Across America is co-sponsored by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (“Cat in the Hat” is the Read Across America Day mascot) and  50 national partners, including the American Library Association, PTA, NFL Players Association, RIF, Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Random House Children’s Books, Reading Rockets, United Through Reading, Heart of America Foundation, First Books, and Youth Service America. Every March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, NEA members nationwide host school and community events designed to pay homage to the beloved children’s book author and to get the nation’s young people excited about reading.

Since 1997, NEA’s Read Across America has attracted some of the biggest names in politics, entertainment and sports to help children discover the joy of reading.  In addition to First Lady Michelle Obama, past celebrity participants have included Jessica Alba, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, Mehcad Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex Rodriguez, Serena Williams, Selena Gomez, Shaquille O’Neal and many others.

“This national celebration is not just about one hour or one day of reading, it is about cultivating a lifetime of good reading habits that will translate into academic success,” said Van Roekel. “NEA’s Read Across America brings students, parents, educators and the entire community together to share the joy of reading.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,