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Many will wear pajamas in attempt to set world reading record

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  September 30, 2011 05:52 PM

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Next week, millions of people across the globe, including hundreds in Boston, hope to break the world record for the most people reading the same book on the same day when they read the 2005 children’s tale Llama Llama Red Pajama authored by Vermont resident Anna Dewdney.

Many of the participants in this year’s event plan to snuggle up in pajamas to fit the theme of this year’s book selection.

Boston-based nonprofit Jumpstart will host its sixth annual, international “Read for the Record” campaign on Thursday, Oct. 6, when for organizers expect to set a new record for the world's largest shared reading experience for the sixth straight year.

At the Central Library in Copley Square, Massachusetts first lady Diane Patrick will read to hundreds of youngsters at a pajama party, which will include a space that replicates the bedroom illustrated in the book, balloon llamas and red pajamas, organizers said.

The governor’s wife will be joined at the 9 a.m. event Thursday by executive producer and host of NECN’s TV Diner program Jenny Johnson, executives from local corporations, volunteers from local businesses, Jumpstart officials, preschool teachers and parents impacted by early literacy programs, according to the nonprofit’s announcement.

In the midst of setting a record, organizers say the event aims to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood literacy.

“Millions of children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten already 60 percent behind their wealthier peers. Research shows that most will never catch up,” the hosting nonprofit says.

Read for the Record was created in 2006 by Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization that formed in 1993 and is dedicated to providing language, literacy and social skills to preschool children from low-income communities.

Four years ago, a children's librarian signed up the North End branch to participate in the Read for the Record day. The move prompted the city’s library system to formally partner with the campaign’s organizers two years ago, according to library officials. Since then, the Central branch and a growing number of neighborhood branches have held their own gatherings.

A year ago, more than 2 million children and adults worldwide nestled around copies of Ezra Jacks Keats’ The Snowy Day to set the latest reading record formerly held each year by those who participated in the organized readings of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar in 2009, Corduroy in 2008, The Story of Ferdinand four years ago, and The Little Engine That Could in 2006, according to Jumpstart.

The day-long campaign, which is officially kicked off on NBC’s Today Show, is commemorated with reading events organized by individuals, schools, libraries, government organizations and local businesses.

Celebrity guest readers will include actress and model Bridget Moynahan, who is the 2011 “Ambassador” for the Read for the Record campaign; comedian and actor Bill Cosby; young pop star Justin Bieber; actor Vince Vaughn; along with elected officials, parents, teachers, children and volunteers, the nonprofit sayd.

For the second straight year, Read for the Record participants can also read the book online, for free. Through Read for the Record sponsor the Pearson Foundation and the We Give Books initiative, every online reader will help donate books to children in need.

In its first five years, the campaign says it has reached more than 5 million children and more than 800,000 books have been donated to children in low-income neighborhoods.

To see if a local branch of the Boston Public Library is holding its own Read for the Record event, click here and/or call the branch to confirm.

Register to join the record-breaking effort by pledging to read on Oct. 6 at, www.readfortherecord.org.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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