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Story time
Campaign tries to set reading record while promoting literacy

LAWRENCEVILLE - Kindergartner Jemonae Ceaser, like thousands of Gwinnett County students, on Thursday listened to the story "Corduroy."

The children's book, written by Don Freeman, was read to students across the nation for "Read for the Record," a national campaign to encourage early literacy. Jumpstart, a nonprofit organization, attempts each year to set a world record in the number of children who read the same story on the same day.

The book tells the story of a teddy bear named Corduroy who is bought from a toy shop by a girl named Lisa.

Jemonae said her teacher at Mulberry Elementary School in Auburn read the book to her class.

"(Corduroy) lost his button, and he pulled the button out of the bed," the 5-year-old said, summarizing the tale. "Then he fell down. ... And the little girl came back and put his button back on."

Students and their parents visited the Dacula cluster elementary school Thursday evening to participate in an instructional night focused on literacy and math. Each grade level offered age-appropriate learning activities based on the book.

First-graders were invited to make "bear buddies" by putting cotton batting between two pieces of cloth and gluing the fabric together. The students were encouraged to take their creations home and read to them.

Trystin Reiter was one of the students that made one of the small bears. His teacher, Heather Watkins, said students read in class and take home books to read to their parents.

"I like reading," Trystin said. "When you read, there's like neat pictures in the book."

Trystin's mother, Lori, said her three children each have a treasure box filled with stuffed animals, and the boys read to those toys. She said she thought the instructional night was a "great idea," as it reinforced the lessons students were learning in class and gave parents tips on how to help their children at home.

"In my childhood, my parents weren't involved," she said. "My husband and I are passionate about it. We have to be involved in our children's lives."

Mulberry Elementary principal Vivian Stranahan said the whole night was designed to make learning fun.

"We wanted to offer some fun family experiences," Stranahan said. "We wanted the academic piece of it and the fun of it to stay in the middle of (the evening)."

Sue Tavernier, Mulberry Elementary's reading specialist, said the school wanted to invite the community into the students' shared experience with "Corduroy."

"With TV and computers and video games and parents' busy schedules, I think sometimes literacy gets lost," Tavernier said. "In order for kids to be successful, they have to learn how to read."