Stars Sing Through Children’s-Book Characters in Literacy PSA

Mother spot for Reading Is Fundamental

All kids need books to succeed. To illustrate that pretty essential point on behalf of the literacy nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental, Mother in New York rounded up the heavy-hitting characters from classic children's tales for a pro-bono Schoolhouse-Rock-style music video—set to an original song by the Roots performed by a who's who of pop talent. Jason Schwartzman is the voice of Pinocchio. Regina Spektor is the voice of Madeline, supported by Nate Russ, frontman of indie darlings of the moment fun, as Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and later as a hipster Humpty Dumpty. The list goes on … Jack Black serves as the voice of Captain Ahab and the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood edition (hers is that of actress Makenzie Dustman). John Legend and Melanie Fiona are Papa and Mama Bear. Session singer Ashleigh Flynn and rapper Consequence are Goldilocks and Baby Bear. Coldplay's Chris Martin is the Big Bad Wolf, Three Little Pigs edition. The chorus also includes Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney and Portlandia. Geek bonus: The voiceover at the end (and the actor reading Rip Van Winkle) is LeVar Burton, aka Star Trek's Geordi La Forge, and more relevantly, host of the long-running PBS show Reading Rainbow, which Burton is relaunching as a mobile app. Sure, there's a bit of a kitchen-sink element to the ad, but you can't argue the message, and the relentless parade of familiar faces makes the feel-good vibe undeniable. It also has to be among the most star-stacked soundtracks for an ad, at least in recent memory. C'mon, word nerds, put down your e-readers and help get dead trees in the hands of children. (Check out The New York Times for more on the campaign's goals, partners, and how it came about.)