October 6, 2008

Reading for the Record


Elementary students in Anne Arundel might help set a new record in reading as part of a nationwide program designed to promote childhood literacy.

Read for the Record - an annual campaign designed to break the world record for the number of adults and children reading the same book on the same day - is appealing to young children for a variety of reasons, area reading teachers say.

"Primary children love big numbers," Mary Ellen Mulvany, reading teacher at Fort Smallwood Elementary, said with a chuckle. "They're having a ball. It's a community project, and we're a community of readers."

On Thursday, students in 68 county elementary schools read the children's classic "Corduroy," a 1968 book about a teddy bear that loses its buttons. The book spawned several sequels and later, a children's show on PBS.

The Read for the Record program is spearheaded by Jumpstart for Young Children, a Boston-based non-profit that pairs college students with preschoolers to build their language and literacy skills.

"It's kind of exciting to be part of something bigger," Ms. Mulvany said.

Lisa Wild, reading teacher at Waugh Chapel Elementary School and vice president of the Anne Arundel County Reading Council, will tally the number of students and teachers who read the book and then send the results to Jumpstart. Preliminary numbers were in the thousands.

"We really had wonderful participation," Ms. Wild said.

Locally, entire schools and their surrounding communities got into the act.

Some schools brought in older students to read to younger children. Ferndale Early Education Center hosted seven guest readers, including school board member Ned Carey of Brooklyn Park and two representatives of Pearson, the book's publisher.

Pearson also donated 360 copies of "Corduroy" to the county schools.

"Reading sets the foundation for their success throughout the rest of school," said Susan Slade, Ferndale's Title 1 reading teacher.

Fort Smallwood students constructed Corduroy puppets in art class, and they sang a song about the character in music class.

In Michelle Laurie's second-grade class at Fort Smallwood, children huddled in a small group on the floor as Ms. Laurie read them the story of Corduroy.

Afterward, she asked the students if any of them had a "special friend" in the form of a teddy bear or another stuffed animal, and the hands shot up in the air.

"I have five teddy bears!" one girl shouted out. Another student talked about going to a Build-A-Bear workshop, where children and adults can construct their own teddy bears.

At Park Elementary in Brooklyn Park, crew members from the Coast Guard cutter James Rankin, out of the nearby Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard, served as guest readers.

Read for the Record also ties in with Park Elementary's Reading Is Fundamental program, which gives away books to the school's kindergarten students.

"Book ownership is a key part of literacy," Assistant Principal Kathryn Fieldhouse said, adding that it can be difficult to get children to read outside of school because they often participate in so many other activities.

"It's a competition for their time," Ms. Fieldhouse said. "We try to ingrain in them the habit of reading before they go to bed."

And the earlier children get excited about reading, the better, Ms. Wild said, emphasizing how important it is for parents to read to their children. {Corrections:} {Status:}


(c) 2008 Maryland Gazette. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.