Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Michelle Obama reads "Cat in the Hat" to kids with Arne Duncan

| No Comments


Office of the First Lady


For Immediate Release March 2, 2010



Library of Congress

Washington, D.C.

11:35 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA: All right, are you guys ready for one more?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you with us?


MRS. OBAMA: All right. Let me ask a question. How many of you are readers? That's a good thing, because you know how important reading is. You know the President of the United States reads all the time, and we make sure that our girls at home read every single night? How many people have an extra -- longer time for bed because they can read? That's good. In our house, you can read -- you can stay up for 30 minutes longer as long as you're reading. And because of that, everyone reads every night. (Laughter.)

And the other reason why reading is important -- you know, if you learn how to read, you can pretty much do anything. I mean, you'll be able to write better, you'll be able to think better, and you'll be able to imagine anything. So reading now is really important, all right? So you guys are going to keep your reading up?


MRS. OBAMA: All right. Well, we're going to read "The Cat in the Hat." Yes, yes, one of my favorites. How many people like "The Cat in the Hat"? All right, so you guys are going to help me out here because if you're like me, you know all the words to "The Cat in the Hat." So just jump in, okay? Are we ready?


(Mrs. Obama begins to read "The Cat in the Hat.")

MRS. OBAMA: Now, would you let a strange cat come into your house?


MRS. OBAMA: I don't know about this. Do you think this is a good idea?


MRS. OBAMA: Oh, let's see.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Hmm, what do you think of that? How many mothers -- of your mothers would mind? Oh, I think a few more would mind. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

I think I agree with the fish. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Oh, now the fish is going to get it. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Oh, this is terrible!

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

This is not going to end well. Let's see.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Oh, what do you think of this? Is this a good idea?


MRS. OBAMA: I don't think so. Let's see what happens. He's doing more.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

What a mess, what a mess.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

You all should listen to your fish. (Laughter.) It's the moral of this story.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Is the cat going to leave?



(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

It's another game. What do you think he's going to do?

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

MRS. OBAMA: What do you think is in that box?

AUDIENCE: Thing 1 and Thing 2.

MRS. OBAMA: All right, we're going to try not to ruin the ending for anyone here. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Now, would you touch these things?


MRS. OBAMA: I don't know about the touching of things. They're touching them, oh my goodness.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

All right, what's going to happen?

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

All right, who do you agree with: the things or the fish?


MRS. OBAMA: How many people agree with the things and the cat? I knew there were some of you out there. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

How many people are allowed to fly kites in their house? None? (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Oh, now, see, that's a problem. (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Oh, man, I would not like this, I have to say.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

We have some mothers here. What are you all thinking? (Laughter.)

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

She's coming. What should they do? Think quick!

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Uh oh, what are they going to do?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, there's the net.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

What do you think? Is he going to get them?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, let's see.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

How is the cat feeling?

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)


MRS. OBAMA: A little guilty, a little sad. Look at his sad little face.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

Do you think you guys could pick this up by yourselves, this mess?


MRS. OBAMA: How many people's rooms look like this? (Laughter.) Oh, we got a few. You got to clean it up. You need the Cat in the Hat.

(Mrs. Obama continues reading.)

I guess that's pretty good. If you go over to somebody's house and make a mess, what should you do?

AUDIENCE: Clean it up.

MRS. OBAMA: You should help them clean it up. And then maybe you'll get invited back. (Laughter.) All right?

(Mrs. Obama finishes reading "The Cat in the Hat.")

What would you do? How many people would tell her? I would tell. (Laughter.) Always tell your parents the truth. (Laughter.) Let's say that together: "Always tell your parents the truth." Very good lesson. And we're done. (Applause.)

MR. VAN ROEKEL: And now we have something very, very special. What's the name of the book that Mrs. Obama just read?

AUDIENCE: "Cat in the Hat."

MR. VAN ROEKEL: And who did the Cat in the Hat bring in the big red box?

AUDIENCE: Thing 1 and Thing 2.

MR. VAN ROEKEL: Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Oh, not yet. (Laughter.) But before I have my special guests -- don't you like it when the teacher corrects the teacher? I have something very special I need you to do. I need you to take the oath. Can you raise your right hand? Your right one -- the other right one. And now I want you to say after me nice and loud so you can all -- everyone can hear you.

(Mr. Van Roekel administers the Reader's Oath.)

All right, give yourselves a hand. What a nice job you did. (Applause.)

And now I would like to ask Secretary Duncan to ask you a few questions.

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, actually, I'm going to turn it around, and I think you might have a few questions for the First Lady. So we have time for a couple of questions. Who would like to raise their hand and ask the First Lady a question about anything? And if you could stand up, please, so we can hear you, and be nice and loud? Okay, maybe say your name and ask your question.

Q I'm Elena (ph). What's your favorite book?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, I have so many -- all of the Dr. Seuss books, all right. And "Horton Hatches The Egg" is actually my favorite kids book, but our whole house -- one of our favorite books is "Where the Wild Things Are." Have you all read that? Did you see the movie -- "roared his terrible roar"? That's one of the President's favorite kids books.

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Can we go in the back, back here, the young gentleman in the green?

Q Mrs. Obama?


Q My name is (inaudible), and I was wondering, how does it feel like being in the President's -- I mean, the Oval Office?

MRS. OBAMA: Yes, you know, the surprising thing is that it's smaller than it looks on TV, you know? I thought it was going to be this big room. I thought it was as big as this room. It's not. It's smaller. It is an oval shape -- yes, it's shaped like an oval.

But it's pretty. It makes you feel very proud, right, because you think of all the other people, all the other Presidents and all the other families who served in that office, how many people sat at that desk, and the kinds of important things that they made happen. And to think that you could be a part of that history, that one day in decades to come somebody is going to be talking about the time that the Obama family was in the White House -- so it makes us feel like we've got to take our responsibilities seriously and do good things while we're there so that we don't embarrass our mothers. (Laughter.)]

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Let's do two more. We'll do these two up front.

Q Mrs. Obama, what's your favorite thing to do?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my favorite thing to do is cuddling with my girls, snuggling up when it's cold -- and maybe reading. But one of the things that we like to do is that when they come home from school they come and we sit on the couch. And then you know who comes and sits on us? Bo. (Laughter.) Yes, he comes right up and lays all over us with his ball and he's sort of drooling. And it's all of us sitting on the couch and Bo. And it's fun. So that's one of the things I like to do.

But I also like to read, I like to play sports, I like to play tennis. I like to go to my kids' activities, go to their basketball games. I love to travel, love to see new places. So I have a lot of things that I love to do.

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Last one right here.

Q What's your favorite place in the White House?

MRS. OBAMA: My favorite place? That's a good question. You know, there is -- when you look on the South Lawn, which is like the backyard, you see a balcony and it's called the Truman Balcony. And you can see -- it's a beautiful place to sit, you can see all of Washington. You can see the monument and at night when it's lit up it's really pretty. And you can see the fountain. And it's quiet. And in the spring you smell the flowers, and there are birds flying around, and it's really peaceful. And that's one of my favorite places to sit when it's warm. We don't sit out there when it's cold. So we can't wait until it warms up so that we can sit out there.

And we can also see visitors at the gate sometimes. And sometimes I think they sort of kind of see us, because you see them waving and you try to wave back, but it's kind of far. (Laughter.) And then when the President comes out they make everybody leave. But that's one of my favorite places.

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Thank you, guys. That's all the time we have, but those were great, great questions. Thank you so much.

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, guys. You guys -- just first of all, you all were very good listeners, right? I mean, you guys did a great job. And your parents and your school and your teachers should be very proud of you all today. So thank you for being so patient.

SECRETARY DUNCAN: Can we have another round of applause for the First Lady, and thank her for coming out today? (Applause.)

END 11:57 A.M. EST

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 3, 2010 8:10 AM.

Rangel takes leave of absence as Ways and Means Committee chair; under ethics fire was the previous entry in this blog.

Blagojevich ethics talks at Northwestern University. Faces corruption trial this summer is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.