The Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham is surprisingly long - 62 pages in all - and when you attempt to read it in under two minutes, pausing for as few breaths as possible, it seems even longer.
I'm intimately familiar with that fact only because yesterday, I speed read the book for a fundraiser for First Book Philadelphia, a local literacy nonprofit that puts new books in the hands of kids who need them. First Book Philadelphia asked a handful of local folks - news types, actor David Morse, Temple mens' basketball coach Fran Dunphy, author Alice Ozma and others - to practice, then team up and read parts of the book aloud.
I practiced a few times in the days leading up to the competition, which was held at the Union League in Center City, and was astonished at how all that "I am Sam" stuff trips your tongue. But I love a good challenge, as I told the audience - I'm from Philly, and I like to win!
We readers were put in teams of two, and I was partnered with Morse, who put his impressive acting chops to good use. When all was said and done, after three rounds, we were judged the fastest team. Our prize? Books will be donated in our honor to deserving local kids. Good stuff.
In case you'd like to see me embarass myself, here's a video shot by Philly.com's Ellen Dunkel of my last practice before the big competition. Hooray for reading!