Two-time Oscar nominee, three-time SAG Award winner and multiple Emmy-winner John Lithgow isn’t just an iconic performer — he’s also an author and the newest reader for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Storyline Online.

John Lithgow reads his magical book for SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Storyline Online
John Lithgow reads his magical book for SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Storyline Online

Mr. Lithgow reads his ninth children’s book, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, for the beloved children’s literacy program and takes his audience to an outdoor classical music concert that’s just a hop skip and a trot away from a local zoo, and when the animal residents get an earful of song, anything can, and does, happen!

Written in verse by actor John Lithgow, an avid reader and reciter of poetry, and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo is a magical tale of animals and classical music in which human, beast, and bird gather together in celebration of song. Whether raccoons on bassoons or ferrets on flutes are real or just a product of a childish, sleepy dream, SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance says he’d attend, and with front-row seats!

“John Lithgow is an American institution, and his talents clearly lie not only on the stage and screen, but on the page, as well. I love the idea of animals having a night out at a classical music event—and who could even dream up such a thing? John Lithgow, that’s who. We’re so honored that he accepted our invitation to read his wonderful story to our young students and children at home,” says Vance.

As with all Storyline Online videos, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo is accompanied by a complementary supplemental activity guide for teachers that aligns with Common Core Standards that strengthen verbal, written and comprehension skills. Aimed at K-2 grade students, the activity guide promotes critical thinking and explores the themes of the book, including topics such as music, performing arts and animals.

An educational brand since 2001, Storyline Online has seen significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic when remote learning has become more common within households. Boasting a 250% increase in views, and 750% surge in complementary activity guide downloads, the initiative has seen a sharp spike in interaction, shares, and likes, proving to be an essential online resource for families learning at home. While most schools have reopened, Storyline Online remains committed to providing the extra help and extended family time that many families with school-age children need, as well as those with children at home.

To watch Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo and all of the Storyline Online videos, visit storylineonline.net.

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