Bankstreet for Children

NYC Officials, Authors Joined Bank Street Head Start to Break World Reading Record

Posted by Claire Daniel on October 21, 2011

On October 6, millions of people from across the country sat down to read from Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama as part of a nationwide campaign intended to raise awareness on the importance of early childhood literacy.

Bank Street Head Start hosted the flagship event, which included readings from the author (pictured right) along with Ronald Richter (pictured below), Commissioner of New York City's Administration for Children's Services.

As hosts of Jumpstart’s 6th Annual Read for the Record campaign, which was presented in partnership with Pearson Foundation, Bank Street underscored its commitment to serving the educational needs of all children, irrespective of income.

“Jumpstart’s mission—to provide enriching literary activities to children, create community service opportunity for college students, and provide a hands on experience for potential future teachers,” said Steven Antonelli, Administrative Director of Bank Street Head Start, “is one we strongly support.”

Peggy McNamara, a literacy professor at Bank Street College of Education, suggests: “When teachers read to young children they demonstrate what an effective reader does. As teachers read the words with expression, comment on the illustrations, laugh about the language or ideas and wonder about the events in a story, they serve as a model that the young reader can use as they make their first attempts at reading. Reading to young children and talking to them about the books is one of the most powerful ways in which we can nurture language development."

Why is early childhood literacy so important? Myung Lee, Jumpstart’s Executive Director, had this to say:

“Children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten 60% behind their wealthier peers. Limited access to books is a core reason why children living in poverty do not start kindergarten with language and literacy skills equal to their more affluent peers. In some low-income neighborhoods, there is only ONE book available for every 300 children. This translates as follows: 1 in 3 children enters school without the skills necessary to succeed.”

Bank Street Head Start has been partnering with Jumpstart for more than a decade. Its primary goal is to ensure that the low-income children served are ready to succeed in Kindergarten and in their entire educational career.

For more information about Bank Street’s Head Start programs, contact Steven Antonelli at And to learn more about literacy programs at the College of Education, check out our Reading and Literacy Programs on the website.