LaVar Arrington, a former linebacker for the Washington Redskins, sat down with students of Windsor Farm Elementary School on Thursday as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record event.
Over in Annapolis, kindergartners at Eastport Elementary crowded around Mayor Josh Cohen to listen to him read the story of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad.
The nationwide event asks children and adults to read the same book on the same day to celebrate literacy and the importance of high-quality early childhood education, according to Jumpstart's website.
"I liked the story for the pictures, but also because all of us hurt people's feelings without meaning to," Cohen said to Ms. Johnson's class when he finished the story.
Cohen has read the book before to his own 4-year-old, who has a soft spot for ladybugs. He said as a parent, he's learned a few tips and tricks for keeping young readers engaged—like asking questions or pausing to make comments about the illustrations.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools have participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record since 2008, said Karen Garczynski, a county reading teacher who organized this year's event. That year 88 percent of its elementary schools participated.
This year 13,101 children at all 77 county elementary schools heard about Lulu and her bug squad play date.
Nationally 2.2 million people participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record in 2011, and the organization hopes to break that record this year to create the world's largest shared reading experience.
Garczynski said the Anne Arundel County Reading Council donated a copy of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad to every pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classroom in the county in honor of the event.
That's a total of 465 books, including 30 copies in Spanish.
The Pearson Foundation and the Penguin Group are also offering free downloads of the book today at We Give Books. The Pearson Foundation will donate one book for every digital read to help reach its campaign goal of giving a million books by the end of this school year.