Meredith Vieira, Mariska Hargitay, Wyclef Jean and LL Cool J join the Jumpstart program

By Anne Driscoll
Updated September 19, 2007 02:50 PM

Matt Lauer does it by the book – reading to his kids, that is.

But besides sharing stories with his wife Annette and their three children – Jack, 6, Romy, 3, and Thijs, 10 months – the Today host, 49, is taking time Thursday to read to hundreds of New York City children at Rockefeller Center.

There, he’ll be joined by first lady Laura Bush, as well as his co-host Meredith Vieira, Mariska Hargitay, Wyclef Jean and LL Cool J for a recitation of The Story of Ferdinand.

The event is part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record program, which supports early reading and benefits low-income preschoolers.

In anticipation of the gathering, Lauer chatted with PEOPLE about life as a bookworm.

So what are your kids’ favorite books?
They’ve gone through all sorts of stages. Dr. Seuss was probably the longest lasting one and, on many evenings, it’s [still] the book of choice. What I love to do is read books to my children that I loved as a child. My favorite was Green Eggs and Ham.

How do you and Annette stage story time in the evenings with your kids?
We are very much into the rituals. We bathe them, we brush their teeth and the family piles on the bed together. It’s a simple way we share the times we read together. And learn together.

How do you make time for family with your busy schedule?
You’ve got to prioritize your time. I don’t have BlackBerry near me during bath, dinner or bedtime. I don’t answer calls then either.

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