America's Children Break Reading World Record

Children across the country made history yesterday participating in the third annual Jumpstart's Read for the Record(R) Campaign. An early morning reading with NBC's TODAY Show co-host Matt Lauer featured a special White House reading with First Lady Laura Bush. The TODAY Show also featured Jumpstart Honorary Spokesperson LL Cool J, Jesse McCartney, Greg Kinnear, Maria from Sesame Street, and Mary-Louise Parker. Children's author and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, helped kicked off the day as thousands of events took place across the country with hundreds of thousands of children reading the story of Corduroy.

The 2008 Campaign raised more than $1.5 million for Jumpstart's early education programs in low-income communities, while drawing national attention to the country's early education crisis. It is still possible to support early education by texting the word READ to 90999 to donate $5 to Jumpstart. With entries still being tabulated, Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign has broken the world record for the largest shared reading experience with more than 300,000 readers registering at!

Readers of all ages participated in Campaign activities in schools and libraries, at colleges and universities, on playgrounds, and in malls, offices and homes across the country, including reading events hosted by Jumpstart in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Celebrations in hundreds of cities across the country were supported by the Pearson Foundation, the Campaign's sponsor and founding partner. Throughout the day, children and adults from all corners of the nation were joined by mayors, school superintendents and principals, and other dignitaries including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Schools Superintendent of New Orleans Paul Vallas, Chicago Public School CEO Arne Duncan, as well as celebrities including singer/songwriter/actress JoJo in Boston; Gabrielle Union, Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood and Lo Bosworth (The Hills) in Los Angeles; R&B Star Mario in Washington DC and MC Hammer in San Francisco.

The Campaign created the world's largest shared reading experience as participants read this year's official Campaign book, the children's classic, Corduroy, written by Don Freeman and published by Penguin Young Readers Group. Along with today's record-breaking shared reading experience, more than 200,000 copies of Corduroy were donated to children in low-income communities.

Each year, one third of America's children arrive at their first day of school developmentally behind their peers and without the skills necessary to succeed. Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign brings national attention to this critical learning gap.

Pearson Foundation President, Mark Nieker, added, "Research shows that the ability to read is a key factor in a child's success in school and that the strongest indicator of future reading ability is the number of books children have at home. Statistics tell us that children in low-income communities have from no books at all to just three at home, versus 50 books in the households of their middle and high-income peers. Pearson recognizes the importance of Jumpstart's Read for the Record in donating books to children who need them most and focusing a national spotlight on sobering statistics like these."

During the 2006 and 2007 Campaigns, more than 400,000 people registered for Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign and raised more than $2,000,000 to support Jumpstart's mission. In addition, Jumpstart and Pearson were recognized for their collaboration with a 2006 Cause Marketing Halo Award and with Boston Business Journal's 2008 Corporate Philanthropy Award for Education Partner of the Year.

Jumpstart's longstanding relationships with its national multi-year partners, American Eagle Outfitters, Pearson and Sodexo, are key components of its ongoing efforts to help at-risk children develop their language, literacy, and social skills in preparation for kindergarten.