Locals help out in world reading record attempt

Some local residents and children gathered Thursday to take a shot at the “Guinness World Records,” but it wasn’t to jam themselves into a phone booth or some small and uncomfortable foreign automobile.

An estimated 100 parents and children turned out to Daly City’s Gellert Park yesterday to take part in the “Read for the Record” event being sponsored by Jumpstart, an organization focusing on preparing children for school.

In gathering and having Daly City Deputy Fire Chief Michael Velzasquez read aloud Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could,” they hoped to help set a world record for the number of children and adults reading the same book on the same day across the nation. Eighty-eight children and 61 parents came to the Daly City event, nearly double the expected number, and there were other events in East Palo Alto, Pescadero and Foster City. The San Francisco Public Library didn’t participate.

Official numbers weren’t available, said Katie Rahm, a spokeswoman with Jumpstart, but they had received 150,000 registrations nationwideby Thursday from people saying they’d read to children on the same day. An official tally is expected within days, she added.

Holly Fulghum-Nutters, the manager of adult literacy advocacy group Project Read in north San Mateo County, which helped put together the event in Daly City, said at least 20 counties in the state took part.

“This is really trying to encourage parents to read to their kids and especially, parents of low-income families,” Shivonne Quintero, an Americorps volunteer organizing the reading, said.

In May, Peninsula education officials released a study indicating that only 53 percent of San Mateo County kindergartners entered school fully prepared and seven percent needed “significant catching up.”.

Bernadette Lee of Daly City said learning to read was important because it’s a “really good way for [kids] to learn on their own.”

“He can read a book and learn about something I don’t even know about,” Lee said, nodding toward her 6-year-old son, Ben.

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