ROME — First Lady Michelle Obama spent Friday afternoon at the United States Army Garrison in Vicenza, Northern Italy, where, as part of the Disney-sponsored Blue Star Families Books on Bases program, she and daughters Sasha and Malia read children’s books to some 500 U.S. military families.
Michelle Obama and Colonel Robert Menist read “Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play With Your Food!” while Sasha and Malia Obama read: “Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great,” both by renowned kiddie author Bob Shea and published by Disney-Hyperion, of course.
Coordinated with support from Disney and a group of so-called Disney VoluntEARS, the event also included a guest appearance by “Mickey Mouse,” following the read-along. Matthew Grossman, Vice President of corporate citizenship, the Walt Disney Company Europe, Middle East and Africa, was among attendees.
Supported by Disney, Blue Star Families hosts national and international Books on Bases events as part of an initiative to promote reading among military children and their families.
To date Disney, through First Book, has donated more than 70,000 books to the program, which reaches more than 35 bases at home and overseas, including installations in Alaska, Hawaii, England, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Japan.
Blue Star Families estimates that over the span of their school career, the average military child has likely attended six to nine different schools with at least two transitions during high school.
Upon arriving at the U.S. military base, Michelle Obama turned her thoughts to those grieving for the shooting massacre that killed nine people at an historic church in Charleston, S.C.
“We have seen too many tragedies like this,” Mrs. Obama said, echoing the speech President Obama made yesterday hours before attending a Hollywood fundraiser.
“There is something particularly horrifying about something that happens so senseless in a house of worship,” she added.
The first lady and her daughters arrived in Italy earlier this week to attend the World Expo in Milan.
They are scheduled to make a stop at the award-winning U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale contemporary art show. The Biennale foundation also runs the Venice Film Festival.