Campaign highlights need for reading to kids

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

NEWSOMS— With a camping getup on and an oversized book in her lap, Meherrin Elementary School Principal Syretha Wright read from a beloved children’s book “Corduroy” on Thursday.

Sixty children sat cross-legged on the gymnasium floor for the first session and paid close attention as Wright turned the large pages and read the words with great exaggeration.

Wright read to three groups of children — 308 total — for Jumpstart’s national campaign called Read for the Record.

Jumpstart was trying to break its own record Thursday for the most number of children and adults reading the same book on the same day.

Children in Isle of Wight County schools also participated in the reading day.

The theme for Meherrin’s event was “Reading Around the Campfire” and Wright played the part, complete with bandana, a tent and campfire (really a fan with streamers).

The reading sessions were held inside, despite the theme.

“It’s a little wet, so we improvised,” Wright said with a laugh.

Wright said she enjoyed taking part in the challenge.

“We want to spread the love of reading for children,” she said after the first group of children let out a huge chorus of “thank yous” and went back to their classrooms.

“Mrs. Wright wants you to spread the love of reading,” she told the children as she waved a net over their heads.

Jumpstart began the reading campaign to raise awareness about the importance of reading to children.

“The more you read to them, the more they want to read,” said Alma Wright, a reading specialist at the school who helped coordinate the event. “I think they all went away with a little bit more love of reading.”

Alma Wright said children need to be read to at least 20 minutes a day. Many pupils come into the school system with a disadvantage because their parents don’t read to them, she said.

“The last thing a child needs to hear at night is ‘I love you’ and a good book,” she said.