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Reading for the Record

As I posted back in May, Oct. 6 was the day the national early-education group Jumpstart designated for its sixth annual Read for the Record event, which raises awareness about the importance of early reading by setting a world record for the most children reading the same book with an adult on the same day. This year's choice was Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Red Pajama.

The day kicked off on NBC's "The Today Show," with a reading of the book by Bridget Moynihan, star of the television series "Blue Bloods." By late afternoon, a slew of news stories were reporting on the state and local politicians reading the book, from Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback to Mayor Pat Morris of San Bernadino, Calif., who wore red pajamas while reading to more than 100 kindergartners. "Early reading skills are critically important to a child's success," Morris told the San Bernadino County Sun. "If they don't have skills built by the 3rd grade, they are liable never to catch up."

The llama and his red pajamas even made their way into my own Chicago neighborhood. As my son and I were walking home from the drugstore yesterday afternoon, we stopped to greet a neighbor whose granddaughter recently started preschool at one of Chicago Public Schools' Child-Parent Centers, known nationally for the continuing longitudinal study on a cohort of children who attended kindergarten at these programs in 1985-86. The little girl came up to greet my son with a book in her hand. She had received a copy of Llama Llama Red Pajama at school.

Seizing the moment, I asked if I could borrow the book for a minute and read it to my son. He listened attentively as I read it on the sidewalk in front of their house. Back at home, my two-year-old spent some time enthusiastically chanting "llama llama jama jama" while splashing his hands in the bathroom sink. So I'd say this year's book was a winner.

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