Rotarians to Read for the Record

Published 12:23 am Thursday, October 6, 2011

Washington (noon) Rotarians will join a nationwide effort to break a National Reading Day record by reading to children across Beaufort County today.

Read for the Record is part of a literacy effort by Jumpstart, a national early education organization, in which volunteers read a selected book to groups of children in various schools and child care facilities nationwide.

Fifteen Washington Rotarians will team up with four members of the Belhaven and Pantego clubs to read “Llama, Llama, Red Pajama” at 13 different locations, including BHM Regional Library, Beaufort County Developmental Center, Washington Montessori School and the Boys and Girls Club of Beaufort County. The event is designed to bring awareness to helping less-privileged children develop the literacy skills they need to be successful in school.

Lisa Woolard, executive director of Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children and a noon Rotarian, has helped organize Beaufort County’s participation in Read for the Record since its first year. “It’s a positive thing to do — to show the Rotarians are out there, really working for our community,” said Woolard.

The program began in 2006, with Jumpstart’s story reaching 250,000 children that year. Since then, Jumpstart has continued to top that figure in an effort to decrease the literacy gap.

“In rural counties, a lot of times the only books in the home are the telephone book and the Bible,” said Woolard. “Children don’t hear stories, they don’t hear many words.  They’re not going to be prepared for school, and studies have shown that children who hear less words now are four times as likely to drop out of school later.”

Last year, more than 2 million children were read to during Read for the Record, and Jumpstart is hoping to set a new world record by reaching even more this year. John Tate III, a Washington resident and a (noon) Rotarian, will read to schoolchildren at Chocowinity Primary School.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Tate said, when asked how it felt to be a part of the nationwide effort. “A nationwide day of reading is symbolic of the wider commitment of our country to education and reading.”

Washington’s (noon) Rotarians are no strangers to the hallways of local schools. Each Monday, a Rotarian volunteers to read to one of the first-grade classes at Eastern Elementary School in an effort to promote literacy, a weekly task that parallels the aims of Jumpstart.

“Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a way that anyone, anywhere, can show that they believe every child deserves a quality early education,” Chad Elder wrote, via email. Elder is the national director of marketing and communications for Jumpstart. “More than 2 million people will read together, in schools, libraries and homes across America today — including Beaufort County, N.C. By sitting down to read, they’ll be standing up to call for an end to America’s early education achievement gap.”

Copies of “Llama, Llama, Red Pajama,” by author Anna Dewdney, were purchased with grant money from Washington’s Rotary District. All copies will be donated to participating schools when story time is over.

One doesn’t need to be a Rotarian to participate.  Individuals may read the book to their children by going online for free at and be counted for the world record.

Aside from bringing needed attention to a worthy cause, Woolard thinks Read for the Record, and reading to children in general, has much-greater benefits: “If you’re ever feeling down — just go read to a child. At the very least, you’ll get a hug out of it. There’s nothing more uplifting than that.”