Jumpstart event will celebrate reading, encourage children's literacy

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COLUMBIA - Educators and local celebrities will read the same book to Columbia Jumpstart children Thursday on Jumpstart's Read for the Record Day. The national event has been going on in Columbia for 11 years, and it aims to encourage childhood literacy by getting adults to read to children.

Around 200 preschool children, their teachers, Jumpstart tutors and members of the community will gather at Field School's front lawn from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Adults will read this year's selected book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach. 

Jumpstart team leader Adilenne Gonzalez tutors children at Field School. She said Read for the Record is a great event for the kids.

"These kids get to see a bunch of adults super excited about reading a book," Gonzalez said. "They get to see that reading is a big deal because we make such a big event out of it. It kinda spurs their interest."

Field School Principal Mary Rook said Jumpstart has held the reading event at the preschool for about 5 years, and it has always been a success. 

"It's a wonderful opportunity to bring a spotlight to early literacy and how important it is that all of our people, all of our citizens, be able to read," Rook said. "And the earlier we can start to begin literacy skills, the better, the better the payoff. The more likely children will be able to read."

Jumpstart is an organization that teaches language, literacy and social skills to preschool-aged children from low-income backgrounds so they are ready for kindergarten. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, low-income parents are less likely to read aloud to their children. Children aged 3 to 5 years old who are read to frequently are more likely to recognize all letters of the alphabet, write and read.

Gonzalez said getting young children interested in reading is important because it can dictate their success in life.

"As long as they have that interest, it'll always be there, and there's less risk for them growing up," she said.

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman, firefighters and police officers are among the people who will read to children. Stiepleman was unable to meet with KOMU 8 News before the event. In an email, he wrote, "As the superintendent of the public schools, we want to encourage literacy and this annual event is a wonderful one!" 

Rook said the readers will encourage the young children to ask questions and participate in conversations about the book, too.

"It's one of our favorite partnership events that involves children and books and grown-ups, to talk and listen with children, which is probably one of the most essential things to helping children grow up to be literate, having people to talk to and listen to them," she said.

Gonzalez said, "Children are incredibly intelligent and incredibly curious, and we need to use that to their advantage and help them succeed later on in life."