Brenau University President Anne Skleder read to roughly 60 children this morning at the Children of Grace Preschool program in Gainesville as part of a worldwide effort to encourage literacy for children.
Skleder read aloud the book Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang to the children, whose ages ranged from two to five years old. Children of Grace is an outreach program of Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.
The reading was a part of "Read for the Record" day, a day set aside by the national organization Jumpstart to encourage literacy for young children. Each year, the organization recommends a book for parents and educators to read to children around the world.
This year's book choice focused on a young girl named Amy Wu, who after being told by her classmates that her handmade dragon did not resemble a real one, went to her grandmother for help. Wu's grandmother encouraged her to stick to her vision of a dragon, and by the end of the book, all of the children in Wu's class appreciated her dragon for its originality.
Skleder said the plot of the book resembles Brenau's goal of encouraging women to find their own voice.
"The main character just wasn't feeling it, wasn't feeling that everybody's conception of a dragon wasn't the same as hers or hers wasn't the same as theirs, and she felt strong enough to say here's what I want to do," said Skleder. "That's exactly what we're trying to do, especially with educating women at Brenau...we want to make sure that everybody finds their voice and then shares their voice."
Skleder said she was excited to read to a group of children that could one day be students at Brenau University.
"I'm excited that they're getting to know what Brenau is, who Brenau is, and frankly that they know that at Brenau we engage at the human level, we engage at the personal level," said Skleder. "The fact that now they know me and I want to bring them over to the office because I want them to see that will just be wonderful."
Meg McPeek, director of Children of Grace, said that aside from encouraging childhood literacy, the goal of "Read for the Record" is to break the Guinness World Record for most people reading the same book on the same day.