Huff Elementary School first-grader Alexander Ayala said he isn't a fan of bugs, but the 6-year-old from Elgin said he still enjoyed the book, "Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad," which millions of children across the country will read as part of the 2012 Read for the Record campaign to set a world record in reading.
Read for the Record is sponsored by Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation, two national nonprofit organizations supporting early childhood education and literacy. Pearson supplied copies of the book to each kindergarten classroom in the district.
"I liked it because they made a secret hideout and blew out cupcakes that had candles on them," Alexander said. "They painted rocks and colored them. I liked the book but Dr. Seuss is better."
Members of the Future Teachers of America Club at the six high schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 visited six elementary schools to read the book to children in prekindergarten through the third grade. The book tells the story of Lulu, whose nickname is Ladybug Girl, and her friends Bumblebee Boy, Dragonfly Girl and Butterfly Girl, as they explore feelings, friendship and bravery.
Andrea Erickson, coordinator for the district's teacher effectiveness initiatives, said the event aligns with long-term goals in the district.
"One of the district's 2015 benchmarks is to have 98 percent of first-graders reading at grade level," Erickson said in an email. "In an effort to reach the benchmark teachers and schools provide multiple opportunities for our youngest students to interact with books so they can experience the fun of reading. Read for the Record is an appealing event because students, teachers, and the FTAC members join others in classrooms across the country to celebrate reading (and, to set a record of reading one title to 2 million students)."
At Huff Elementary School in Elgin, 40 Elgin High School students read to 349 students. Another eight students from Gifford Street High School read to 250 Clinton Elementary School students. Numbers for the remaining schools were not immediately available. The book was read to students in both English and Spanish. In 2011, "Llama Llama Red Pajama" by Anna Dewdney, was read to 415 students across the district.
The campaign set a record in 2011 with 2.2 million participants nationwide.
In addition to reading to younger students, high school students had the opportunity to shadow teachers for the day. Elgin High students also worked with students on a building ladybug bracelets, a project students designed to tie-in with Read for the Record.
"It is a good opportunity for me to go into a classroom and see how it is," Maria Garcia, a 17-year-old senior from Elgin said. "I got to experience what it was like to read to the kids."