Students read for record

A few dozen local students joined with their counterparts across the country to promote literacy and in the process try to set a new world record.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten students at Whitehall Elementary School joined millions of students across the country in reading, or in their case, listening to a story about a group of children who come together for a play date that doesn’t go exactly as planned.

The story was part of Read for the Record, an annual event where students around the country try to set a Guinness Book record for the most people reading the same book in one day.

The students were joined by six members of the National English Honor Society at Whitehall High School who read aloud David Soman and Jacky Davis’ “Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad.”

“The program is intended to promote the love of reading at a young age,” said Melia St. Clair, a prekindergarten teacher at Whitehall.

“It’s a lot of fun. I like kids so the satisfaction is all mine,” said senior Megan Lane, who was joined by fellow honor society members Kassi VanGuilder, Paxton Peterson, Ali LeClair, Rebecca Lavin, and Ariel Ayers.

Before delving into the book, Lane and VanGuilder helped students color and cut out pictures of different insects, which were then turned into puppets and used as props each time they were mentioned in the story.

The students then gathered on the floor and listened intently as VanGuilder read the story. As she read, Lane gave cues as to when students should raise their puppets into the air.

Organized by Jumpstart and in partnership with the Pearson’s Foundation, Read for the Record is a nationwide campaign that promotes the importance of early childhood education and reading, which studies have shown can increase a student’s chances of graduating high school by as much as 30 percent.

According to its website, seven million children have participated in the program since its inception in 2006 and nearly one million books have been provided to children in low-income areas.

St. Clair said the older students who volunteer their time to read to the children are one of the reasons why the program is so effective. She said the younger students really look up to the students.

“The girls do a great job,” she said.

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