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Two schools help to set reading record

October 08, 2009|By JANET HEIM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- For the record, it's a book that has become a favorite read of children, parents and teachers worldwide.

On Thursday, the reading of Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" in two Washington County schools was part of a quest to set a Guinness world record for the number of children and adults reading the same book on the same day.

Jumpstart's Read for the Record is an international campaign that was created in 2006 to support early childhood education. In 2008, the record of 700,000 readers who heard the story of "Corduroy" broke the previous record set for the event. This year's goal was 1 million participants.

Students at Bester Elementary and Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts and Technology participated in the readings that were expected to break the record.

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Bester Principal Kristi Bachtell read to all 452 morning students over the morning announcements.

At Emma K. Doub, Library Media Specialist Christine Hurley read to about 275 students at an afternoon schoolwide assembly.

"This shows the students that reading is that important, that big of a priority, that it's important enough for our school to all read together," Hurley said.

Bachtell received an e-mail Wednesday morning from James Cleveland, Jumpstart president, with the news that he expected the 1 million reader goal to be met Thursday. Bachtell said she heard cheering when she shared that news with students before reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" with them.

Hurley said Thursday's assembly also would kick off Emma K. Doub's 1 Million Minute Challenge, a schoolwide program to get students and staff to read 1 million minutes by the end of the school year.

Bachtell said the staff at Bester always promotes reading. The school is home of the Judy Center, which works to enhance school readiness from birth to age 5, including reading readiness.

She said any time the school can showcase an author and promote reading, she's all for it.

"And it was fun for our students to have the opportunity to help break the record," Bachtell said.

Akira Berry, a fifth-grader at Bester, said "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" was her favorite book when she was younger. She said she loves to read, especially fictional stories about fairies, as does classmate Tatiana Kuala, who prefers funny books.

Classmate Donald Allgeier seemed unsure about his interest in reading, until he remembered how much he likes to read about the Civil War, nature and anything written by Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield cartoons.

They agreed it was exciting to be part of breaking a world record, and realized how important reading is to their lives.

At Bester and Emma K. Doub, it was the media specialists who spearheaded their school's participation by signing them up online. Mentzer said she learned about the event after receiving an e-mail from Hurley about the program.

Participating schools and individual classroom teachers registered for the event online, which is how the total of participants was tracked.

"For the kids to know they were part of it . . . that excited them," Mentzer said.

Jumpstart is a nonprofit organization with the mission of ensuring that every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. More information on Read for the Record can be found at www.readfortherecord.org.

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