Musicians & READ Posters: A Visual Timeline


As lifelong bookworms, we’ve never needed a poster to inspire us to want to read — and if we did, we’re not sure that Phil Collins or the Indigo Girls would be the right celebrities to motivate us. That said, we truly enjoy their efforts in the American Library Association’s READ campaign, which is now in its 25th year. And lucky for us, these are not the only musicians to have lent their image to the worthy cause. Click through for a quick visual history that goes all the way from Sting to Ne-Yo.

Sting, 1985

For some reason Sting decided to pose in period costume. This image is too blurry for you to make out that he’s holding a copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

David Bowie, 1987

A very preppy — but shoeless — Bowie reads Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot.

Phil Collins, 1988 – Unfortunately we couldn’t find anything larger than this thumbnail image of Collins donning a coon-skin hat. Naturally, he’s reading Davy Crockett.

KRS-One, 1990 – For his poster, hip hop pioneer KRS-One held a copy of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Sadly, there’s no image.

REM, 1991

Michael Stipe & co. hold various titles and look angsty in their ripped jeans.

Elvis, 1994

We have absolutely no clue what the King is reading. Or why he’s being featured in 1994.

Michael Bolton, 1994 – We couldn’t find this one, but we do know that he was holding a copy of Shibumi.

LL Cool J, 1997

The ’90s rapper is reading The Children’s Health Food Bank. No idea why.

Ani DiFranco, 1999

As a professed fan of his work, it’s no surprise that Ani is clutching a copy of Woody Guthrie: A Life.

Melissa Etheridge, 1999 – Another instance where we could only find a thumbnail. What you can’t see is that Melissa is reading Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body.

Enrique Iglesias, 2000

We wouldn’t have pegged Enrique for a Hemingway fan, but there he is reading The Old Man and the Sea.

Britney Spears, 2001

Yes, that is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and a big American flag ya’ll.

Coolio, 2001

Another musician reading Frankenstein. Do you think he heard about it from Sting?

Weird Al, 2001

Weird Al reads Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. And it appears to have hurt his head.

Yo-Yo Ma, 2001

Yo-Yo Ma refuses to put down his cello while reading Goodnight Moon.

Indigo Girls, 2002 – Thumbnail here, and bonus points if you can tell what they’re reading.

Missy Elliott, 2003

Missy holds a copy of A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams.

Renee Fleming, 2004

Renee is sitting in that mouse’s lap because she’s reading the Anthology of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales.

Ice Cube, 2005

Ice Cube’s book of choice? The Greatest: Muhammad Ali.

Common, 2008

Common is obviously on Team Obama because he’s reading The Audacity of Hope. But why is he looming over a cityscape?

The Jonas Brothers, 2009

Words from the Wise. The Alchemist. A Wrinkle in Time. No comment on whether they should count as musicians.

Ne-Yo, 2009

If Ne-Yo hasn’t already read The Graveyard Book, he should. It won the Newbery Medal!