Stuttgart youths participate in reading record attempt
Col. Richard Pastore, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany, reads the book, "Corduroy," to first-graders at BAfAPblingen Elementary School Oct. 2 as part of an attempt to break the "shared reading experience" record set

STUTTGART, Germany - Youngsters in the Stuttgart Military Community took part in the third annual Read for the Record Oct. 2, in an attempt to break the world record for the most children reading the same book with an adult on the same day.

Read for the Record is sponsored by Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization focused on intervening in the lives of at-risk children through intensive early education, said Jeff Hiatt, Stuttgart USO director and coordinator of the event here. "The idea is to promote literacy among disadvantaged children," said Hiatt.

Read for the Record not only generates public awareness about the education gap that exists between income levels, but it raises money to support Jumpstart's early education programs, he added.

Last year, 258,000 people read "The Story of Ferdinand" on Sept. 20 to set a new world record. Don Freeman's "Corduroy" was this year's official book, as Stuttgart's USO received 1,600 copies of the book thanks to the Pearson Foundation, a publisher of educational materials. The foundation donated the books and paid for their shipment to Stuttgart, Hiatt said.

While Read for the Record is mainly held in communities across America, three European USOs took part: Stuttgart, and U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza and Naval Support Activity Naples in Italy.

The program is aimed at 3- to 8-year-olds. To reach as many children in this age group as possible, Hiatt partnered with the elementary schools and Child and Youth Services facilities to join in the world record attempt. Reading events for the community were also held at the Patch Library, Panzer Post Exchange and the Robinson Barracks Commissary/Exchange.

It will take a few weeks before organizers will know exactly how many readers participated this year. "The preliminary expectation - with all the books that went out - is that there will be a new record," said Hiatt.

Hiatt applauded the cooperation he received from the Stuttgart community during this endeavor. "The USO is here for (servicemembers), but we're also here for the families. To be able to help children learn is a really great thing," he said.

Page last updated Thu October 9th, 2008 at 04:17