English Honor Society students “Read for the Record”

W hitehallpre-kindergarten and kindergarten students joined five million of their peers in attempting to set a rather lofty record last week.

Members of the two elementary school classes were part of the Read for the Record event, where students around the country all read from the book “Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anne Dewdney, on the same day in attempt to set a Guinness Book record for the most people reading one book in the same day.

Joining them and lending a helping hand was a small group of junior and senior members of theWhitehallchapter of the National English Honor Society.

High school English teacher and National English Honor Society advisor Karen Short has organized the event for the last two years.

“We started the program because I wanted to promote a love reading early on. Literacy is so important for a successful education, so the earlier they learn that reading can fun, the better,” Short said.

“We’re trying to get as many people reading as we can,” said senior Janelle Cahee, who was participating in the event for the first time.

“The goal is to break last year’s record of 2.1 million people reading the same book at the same time,” fellow senior Emily Sweeney added.

Joining Sweeney and Cahee were Kassi VanGuilder, Carli Varmette, Maggie Benjamin, Marion Gendron, Ali LeClair and Rebecca Lavin. 

“It’s a lot of fun to do. I just really enjoy it,” said Gendron, who helped read to kids in the pre-kindergarten class and was participating in the event for the second consecutive year.

“It’s nice to do something like this with all kids.”

Organized by Jumpstart and partnered with Pearson’s, Read for the Record is a nationwide campaign that promotes the importance of early education and reading to children at a young age which studies have shown can increase a students chances of graduating high school by as much as 30 percent.

In Marilyn Borden’s kindergarten class, Cahee and Sweeney introduced themselves as students gathered around, sitting intently on the floor.

Cahee sat on a stool in front of the students while Sweeney joined the students on the floor.

As Cahee read, Sweeney asked the student’s questions about the story and prompted their participation by having them mimic some of the noises of the story’s main character.

After wards the students were asked to return to their table where they participated in a drawing exercise related to the story.

A similar scene played out next door, where Varmette and VanGuilder circulated the room complimenting the students on their drawings. The preschool students even had the chance to dance to “If You’re Happy and You Know It” but with the full range of emotion and not just happy.

Some of the older students even wore pajamas because of the book’s title.

Besides an opportunity to converse with their “high school friends,” the activity was meant to generate interest in reading and promote literacy.

“I hope the younger students take away a love of reading, a sense that reading that can be fun and interactive, and have gained some role models through watching the older students,” Short said. “For the older kids: they can also re-affirm their love of reading. Seeing little kids and their reaction to books can help older students realize that they too can love reading again. This program also helps instill a sense of community and school pride.”

The students seemed to enjoy the experience, hanging on every word and laughing as they saw the illustrations in the book.

“The kids really enjoy it,” Borden said. “It exposes the kids to some really good positive role models. They get excited when the big kids come down here and they really enjoy being read to. They get to see how much fun reading is.”

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