Local schools, childcare centers read together with United Way of West Alabama

Read For The Record 2023
Photo courtesy of United Way of West Alabama

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Emilee Boster

The United Way of West Alabama is encouraging childhood literacy by inviting West Alabamians to participate in the 13th annual Read for the Record on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Read for the Record, a collaboration with UWWA’s Success by 6 initiative and Jumpstart, is a national event where children across the country all read the same book. This year’s book is “Nigel and the Moon,” a story of a boy who dreams about his future during his school’s career week. 

“It really is a fun day for children, but it is also a day when we can get the community involved,” said Success by 6 Director Cheryl Fondren. “Just to celebrate young children, encourage literacy and to make people aware that literacy actually starts at birth.”

Local schools and child care centers will be participating in the event by reading the book to students and working through the book’s activity worksheets provided by UWWA in English and Spanish. Last year, 19,465 children and volunteers in nine West Alabama counties participated in the event. 

Anyone can read for the record by signing up online where there are links to the book, activity guides and videos about the book. There will also be a video of the local guest reader, Dr. Charles Nash, reading the book to a classroom at Oakdale Elementary. 

The Success by 6 initiative aims to have each child in West Alabama enter kindergarten healthy, confident and ready to learn.

Success by 6 also sponsors the Dollar Parton Imagination Library, a program that provides 6,400 West Alabama children with a book each month from their birth until they turn 5 years old. 

“We know that the research on books in the homes says that children of poverty tend to have no books in the home that are age appropriate. If we can have just 20 books in the home, it levels the playing field when it comes to academics and education,” Fondren said. 

They also host a four-week JumpStart kindergarten for children with little to no preschool experience. The students prepare for kindergarten and take pre and post-assessments while being observed by the program’s teachers. Last summer, 184 students participated in JumpStart. 

The Bright Minds volunteer program encourages student groups and volunteers to go to local classrooms and read to the students once a week. 

Wash, Read, Repeat put small libraries with books, educational material and a sofa in two Tuscaloosa City laundromats, Laundry Express and West End Laundry. Once a week, there is a storytime collaboration with the Tuscaloosa Public Library and The University of Alabama. 

The Success By 6 initiative also hosts workshops and events throughout the year to encourage young people to read. 

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