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Read Across America Day With Mariette Hartley & Jerry Sroka

Actors Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka also happen to be husband and wife. Find out below why this happy couple is turning a new page and teaming up with SAG on Read Across America Day, March 2, 2012.

Photo Credit: Forrest Rogers

Through the SAG Foundation’s literacy program BookPALS, Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka will be reading a book to children’s classrooms at Sunny Brae Elementary School in Los Angeles on the afternoon of March 2nd – Read Across America Day.

About the SAG Foundation: In 2011, 2,000 actors served more than 100,000 children through their award winning literacy programs. For nearly two decades, the SAG Foundation has championed children’s literacy through its core program, BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) to learn more visit www.sagfoundation.org.  In honor of Read Across America, the SAG Foundation has twenty literacy events taking place across the country. For over 10 years, the SAG Foundation has hosted literacy events to celebrate RAAD.

Through the SAG Foundation’s literacy program BookPALS, Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka will be reading a book to children’s classrooms at Sunny Brae Elementary School on the afternoon of March 2nd – Read Across America Day.

As a children’s book reviewer and avid reader, I love everything about books, from the crisp sound of a turning page to the detailed artwork on a bookjacket. Whether we read them in a book, on a Kindle, iPad or smart phone app, a great story moves us so we celebrate them on Read Across America Day. That’s why Mariette Hartley and her husband Jerry Sroka got involved in RAAD through the Sceen Actors Guild. They both believe “in the power of reading and the extraordinary lives that open up when you read.”

If I go back a few decades, but not as far back as illuminated manuscripts, my earliest memory of a favorite picture book is Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Somehow the monkeys and the beret-like caps appealed to me. So naturally I wondered if Hartley or her husband could recall any of the books that were read to them or any that they loved as children. Hartley recalled being read The Rose Red Book of Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham while Sroka had no recollection of any one particular book being read to him. He did however remember reading The Lou Gehrig Story and The Babe Ruth Story, over and over again. Hartley also said that The Red Shoes, Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, prompted her to pursue an acting career. For Sroka it was the Thor Heyerdahl adventure, Kon-Tiki.

It’s also no coincidence that Read Across America Day falls on beloved author Theodor Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) birthday. Both Hartley and Sroka have named Dr. Seuss as one of their all-time favorite authors. Frankly, it’s hard to find anyone over the age of three who cannot name one of Seuss’s books. Another top pick of Hartley and Sroka would have to be the prolific and talented Jane Yolen (of How Do Dinosaurs… ? series, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and Owl Moon fame).

By participating in a reading at a local elementary school on March 2, this couple is showing their commitment to literacy. In order to get more kids interested in reading, especially boys, beyond elementary school they think that kids must be read to, not only in grade school but before as babies. “Then, hopefully they’ll catch the [reading] bug. But, don’t force it, make it fun and full of humor and imagination,” say Hartley and Sroka. That’s the main reason why as parents and now as grandparents, these two actors continue to read the ever popular tales:The Cat in the Hat, Eloise, Goodnight Moon, and Amelia Bedelia.

Let today be your day to take some time away from electronics and snuggle up with your child to share a good book.

About Mariette: Emmy® Award-winning actress Mariette Hartley is recognized as one of the most versatile actresses in the industry through her impressive career in television, film and theatre.  Currently recurring on “Law & Order: SVU.” A three-time Clio Award winner for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner, she also hosted the “CBS Morning Program” and is currently hosting her tenth season of “Wild About Animals. “Mariette also just finished doing a play in Cleveland called Ten Chimneys.

About Jerry: Jerry Sroka’s credits include: the Boston and New York stage versions of “Godspell” and the Columbia Pictures film version, “As You Like It,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Charles Grodin’s “One of the All Time Greats,” at the Vineyard and “Dreyfus In Rehearsal” directed by Garson Kanin. He wrote and appeared in the long running “Dying for Laughs” at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Published by Samuel French it has recently seen productions in Atlanta, N.Y. and Connecticut. Jerry just finished writing a screen play about Senior Softball and did a Disney TV show called Shake It Up.”


About Mariette: Emmy® Award-winning actress Mariette Hartley is recognized as one of the most versatile actresses in the industry through her impressive career in television, film and theatre.  Currently recurring on “Law & Order: SVU,” Hartley has also recurred on the FX series, “Dirt” and has appeared in many television shows including recent appearances on “Big Love,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Cleaner” and “Saving Grace”.  She has starred in such movies for television as “Silence of the Heart” and “MADD: The Candy Lightner Story.”  A three-time Clio Award winner for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner, she also hosted the “CBS Morning Program” and is currently hosting her tenth season of “Wild About Animals.”  Hartley’s recent stage appearances include “Ten Chimneys” at the Cleveland Playhouse and the Broadway production of “Cabaret.”

One of the last young performers chosen by MGM Studios to be groomed for motion picture stardom, Hartley conquered Hollywood in Sam Peckinpah’s classic “Ride the High Country” and her other film roles include Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie,”  “Encino Man,” “1969” and “Improper Channels.”

About Jerry: Jerry Sroka’s credits include: the Boston and New York stage versions of “Godspell” and the Columbia Pictures film version, “As You Like It,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Charles Grodin’s “One of the All Time Greats,” at the Vineyard and “Dreyfus In Rehearsal” directed by Garson Kanin. He wrote and appeared in the long running “Dying for Laughs” at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Published by Samuel French it has recently seen productions in Atlanta, N.Y. and Connecticut. Other appearances include, “Rumors” in Las Vegas, “Chapter Two” the Woodstock Playhouse, “Wings” the Eastside Playhouse, in NY. TV credits include… “Shameless,” “Shake It Up” “West Wing,” “The Division,” “Seinfeld,” “Providence,” “Party of Five,” and “Philly”.  His voice can be heard on “The Life and Times of Tim,” “Antz,” “Rugrats,” Family Guy”, “The Wild Thornberrys”, and the video game Mafia II.  Jerry and his wife, Mariette Hartley appeared together in “The 60’s” at the Pacific Resident Theatre Company  and in Mr. Sroka’s second play, “In the Wings” in L.A. He appeared in the short film “The Physics of Fathers” playing opposite his son, Warren who wrote and produced. His daughter Ash is an actress and choreographer.

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