Indian River County joined the world’s largest shared reading experience on Nov. 7, as more than 8,000 local children and adults joined more than two million others to read the same book as part of JumpStart’s 14th annual Read for the Record to highlight the importance of building early literacy and language skills. The county-wide event was coordinated by The Learning Alliance, the managing partner of the Moonshot Moment Literacy Movement.
The book, “Thank you, Omu!” by Oge Mora, tells the story of a community celebrating their connection through food. “Like the story, our Moonshot Community is about connecting and supporting one another. It's about coming together to take a stand for children and early education. We do this in service of the Moonshot goal which recognizes literacy as the gateway to our community’s prosperity,” said Marie O’Brien, TLA's Manager of Moonshot Outreach.
During the one-day Moonshot Big Read the book was read in elementary schools across the county and at Moonshot partner sites, including Dasie Bridgewater Hope, Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative Family Centers in Gifford and Fellsmere, at Childcare Resources and the Indian River County Library.
Literacy Services tutors and community guest speakers read at schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters, in VPK classrooms and the RCMA. Shanti Sanchez hosted several school groups for a reading of the book and art activity at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.
The idea behind Read for the Record is to bring together millions of people to highlight the importance of building early literacy and language skills for every child so that all children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.
“Another happy coincidence was that the Big Read coincided with the Samaritan Center’s annual Soup Bowl,” noted O’Brien. “It was the perfect day for folks to share this story over a bowl of soup and really brought home the message of the power of community – whether people come together to improve children’s literacy or to help the homeless – we’re always more powerful when we work together.”
“It was a pleasure to read this book at our 2019 Soup Bowl event,” said Gail Giarrusso, a volunteer at St. John of the Cross of the approximately 200 visitors to that location. “Although many of our guests were older, it touched many hearts. The generosity, as shown in this beautiful story, continues to be spread. May this and every generation be blessed with the lessons learned.”
The Learning Alliance’s Moonshot Reading Rocket made stops at several Treasure Coast Community Health locations in Vero Beach and Sebastian spreading the word that, literacy matters. Passersby participated in the creation of a community mural and dropped notes into Thank You! jars sharing what they are thankful for.
The final stop of the day was in partnership with the Marian Fell Library, where children and families gathered for a pizza party, signed up for library cards, played games, and enjoyed a reading of “Thank You Omu!” by Patti Fuchs, Indian River County Library children’s librarian.