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Columbia preschoolers participate in Jumpstart's Read for the Record

Thursday, October 7, 2010 | 5:50 p.m. CDT; updated 6:11 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 7, 2010
Former Jumpstart tutor Shane Chinni reads to Columbia school children as part of the program’s Read for the Record Campaign on Thursday. The goal of the campaign is to create a new World Record for the most people reading the same book on the same day. The official book of the campaign was Ezra Jack Keats’ "The Snowy Day."

COLUMBIA — Lily Sheafer's favorite part was when the sun went down, the moon came up and the snow was made of flour.

Four-year-old Lily was one of nearly 100 children who took part in Jumpstart's Read for the Record at the Columbia amphitheater Thursday morning.

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As part of the nationwide campaign, children and adults attempt to break a world record and emphasize literacy skills by having adults read the same book to children on the same day in various parts of the country.

Read for the Record was also featured on the "Today" show with Bill Cosby reading "The Snowy Day" to children in Rockefeller Plaza.

Thursday's book, by Ezra Jack Keats, is about a boy named Peter who plays in the first snow.

The event brought together children from four Columbia preschools: Park Avenue Child and Family Development Center; UCP Child Development Center, formerly Easter Seals; Nora Stewart Early Learning Center; and Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center.

Ashley Huff, the senior director of field program support at Jumpstart, said she even read "The Snowy Day" to her niece that morning.

"I told her 'you can be one of the first kids to be part of Read for the Record,'" she said.

Huff said she thought the event didn't benefit just the children but was a learning opportunity for the whole community.

To highlight the importance of reading, Columbia Public Library made a donation of 220 books to childhood centers in Boone and Calloway counties, Martina Hoyt, Jumpstart's associate site manager said.

"I think that'll really go a long way in advocating for childhood literacy," she said.

Miss Missouri 2010 Erika Hebron, who has a history with Read for the Record, joined in the fun and read to the kids gathered outside the Boone County Courthouse.

"I had actually done this event two years ago and read the book 'Corduroy' out to kids," Hebron said. 

This time around, her presence seemed right out of a storybook to the kids present.

"To them, I'm like a real-life princess," she said. "All of them wanted to touch the crown."

The reading record for 2009 was 2 million people, and this year's campaign aimed to reach the 2.5 million mark, Hoyt said.

Columbia's Jumpstart program is currently in its eighth year.


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