Pre-kindergarten students throughout the country and around the world participated Tuesday morning in the 8th annual Read for the Record event, including hundreds of students right here in Central Florida.

Read for the Record, one of the campaigns operated by JumpStart, aims to celebrate and encourage literacy from an early age, and to prepare students for success as they move into kindergarten and beyond. Last year the program managed to break a world record as nearly 2.5 million adults and children worldwide participated in reading activities.

Dr. Lee-Anne Spalding, lecturer in the School of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership coordinated this year’s event at UCF, with dozens of students from 3 area schools participating. More than 70 CEDHP students volunteered for the event, guiding readings and activities for all of the kids. The young students participated in reading this year’s book, “Bunny Cakes” by author Roseamary Wells, then worked their way through eight baking activity stations.

“The Read for the Record event is a labor of love,” said Dr. Lee-Anne T. Spalding. “Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces makes all the planning and preparation so worthwhile. I had a great deal of support from PNC Bank, Publix, various members of the college, and our student volunteers! Not only did the children get to enjoy a morning of educational activities, but the CEDHP students were able to work with young children who, this time next year, will be in kindergarten at our local schools. At the end of the day, we all feel so good about the experience we have provided. We want to be a small part of the process of fostering a love of learning early on and through this event we accomplish just that!”

Parents and teachers were present for the event as well, watching as the young students enjoyed activities including a slotted-spoon relay, virtual cupcake creation, and more.

Jenn Froehlich, mother of one of the preschoolers taking part in Read for the Record, was impressed with the experience. “This is my first year being a part of this, and it’s been terrific. It’s a great learning experience, and it’s just an amazing event with a lot of great up-and-coming teachers. It’s terrific for everyone, both the kids and the teachers.”

Wendy Abell, teacher at Tuskawilla Presbyterian Preschool, was also glad for the opportunity to take part in Read for the Record this year. “I think anything that encourages early literacy is a good thing, so this reading initiative is amazing and we are so privileged to have been invited this year to participate.”

Amy Pylant, teacher at Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center in Parramore, added, “The children were so excited and they talked about it all the way back to school. Everything was so well organized and I can truthfully say I’ve never been on such a relaxing field trip. This will be a day we will all remember!”