Staff Photo: John Bohn Raymond Chita, left, Jaydah Daniels, center, and Camilo Llivisaca, far right, first-grade students at Alcova Elementary School in Dacula, join the entire Gwinnett County school district in an attempt to break a record as they Read for the Record Thursday morning. Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash read the children's book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad to groups of students at Alcova.
DACULA -- One of the county's most prominent elected public officials told first-graders at Alcova Elementary Thursday that the most important thing they can do as students is master reading skills.
The group sat, listening to County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash as she turned pages in a children's book, telling the story of "Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad."
Students at Alcova and other elementary schools across Gwinnett County joined pupils from around the nation Thursday as they set out to break a record for reading. The initiative, known as Read for the Record, is a campaign to encourage early literacy.
In classrooms in the district, volunteers like Nash read to students. Each school counted the number of students that read or heard the story, which was tabulated in an attempt to beat the previous year's record.
Last school year, GCPS set the record as the largest school district worldwide to participate with 34,815 students who read in the single-day event.
World-record attempts aside, Nash said it's a chance to remind children "just how important is to learn to read. It is the fundamental basis of learning, and without loving to read it's really hard for children to do well in academics and other parts of life too. It's an important skill."
Added Nash: "And it's just fun."
Kia Henley, an assistant principal at Alcova Elementary, said Thursday's efforts were made that much more special by those guests who volunteered to come out and spend time with local children.
"It's nice for them to be here and let the kids know about the importance of literacy," Henley said.
Nash had the attention of students at the Dacula school. Like Aubrey Wilbanks and Nick Cuffy, both six. "My favorite part of the story was when they went through the forest of giants," Cuffy said.
Wilbanks added that he liked it when "they thought the flowers were giants." And his favorite character? Bumblebee Boy. Cuffy's favorite character in the story was Ladybug girl.
"That was a good book," Cuffy added. "Exciting."