By Daniele Berman, Operations Manager
This article originally ran in the Durham Herald-Sun.
This Thursday, October 27, history will be made as children and adults across our country join forces for the world’s largest shared reading experience – and Durham will be a part of this momentous day.
Local nonprofit Book Harvest will send dozens of storytime volunteers out into all corners of Durham on Thursday, to read the book The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers), a classic tale of a bear’s epic journey and the mystery surrounding one delicious sandwich. Jumpstart, a national early education organization, is spearheading this 11th annual Read for the Record event. Jumpstart is a national campaign that helps address the educational inequities that leave too many children unprepared for kindergarten.
Since 2006, this 24-hour celebration has mobilized over 17 million people, and Jumpstart holds the world reading record for the most people reading the same book on the same day. This year’s official campaign book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, will not only inspire adults to read, laugh, and learn with children, but will also spur policymakers and organizations to take action towards transformative change in early education — while putting books in the hands of more children across the country.
Book Harvest is partnering with the Office of the Mayor, Durham Public Schools, Durham Police Department, Durham Housing Authority, and Durham County Library to bring Read for the Record to our community, mobilizing dozens of volunteers to read with children all over the city.
Mayor Bill Bell will read to students gathered in the media center at Pearsontown Elementary, and Book Harvest representatives will share the book with students at several other elementary schools in Durham, including C.C. Spaulding, Lakewood, Glenn, Eastway, and Hope Valley. Students will gather after school in Durham Housing Authority’s Cornwallis Road and Liberty Street communities to hear the story as well. The Community Resource Unit of the Durham Police Department will be reading to children they interact with throughout Durham. In addition, members of Book Harvest’s Book Babies team with share the book with the families enrolled in Book Babies who receive home visits this week.
At some of these locations, Book Harvest will also provide free books to the children they read with, to help them build home libraries. Book ownership ranks as the number one predictor of academic success for children; yet 61% of children living in poverty are growing up in homes with no books at all. Book Harvest is changing academic outcomes by helping children from low-income families grow up in book-rich homes.
Embracing core values of quantity and choice, Book Harvest’s four main programs enable children to choose books for themselves, without a limit on quantity or reading level, in order to fuel their excitement about reading and to help them identify as readers. Founded in 2011, Book Harvest recently provided its 500,000th book to a local child.
Book Harvest’s work with Read for the Record this year marks the kickoff of its participation, along with Durham Housing Authority, in the national Book-Rich Environments Initiative. This initiative is a joint effort by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to bring books and literacy support to children living in public housing communities across the country.
To learn more about Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, visit www.jstart.org. To learn more about Book Harvest and how to participate in Read for the Record or other activities of Book Harvest locally, visit www.bookharvestnc.org.