September 20th Charity Event to Break World Reading Record

Pearson Foundation Extends support for Jumpstart for Young Children with nationwide Book Donations to At-risk Preschoolers

Penguin Young Readers Group Publishes Special Custom Edition of Children's Classic The Story of Ferdinand to Benefit Reading Campaign

NEW YORK, NY - Each year, one third of America's children arrive at their first day of school developmentally behind their peers and without the skills necessary to succeed. The businesses and employees that make up Pearson, the international media company, are supporting Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign to bring awareness to this national crisis. This campaign, which last year raised more than $1 million for Jumpstart's work with preschool students, culminates in a nationwide reading event on September 20th - a day when the Penguin Young Readers Group classic The Story of Ferdinand will take the spotlight as people of all ages read this children's favorite and break the world record for the most individuals reading the same book on a single day. 

Custom Limited Edition of The Story of Ferdinand on Sale Today

Today, the Pearson Foundation and Jumpstart announced that a special, custom limited edition of The Story of Ferdinand is now on sale at Toys "R" Us, American Eagle Outfitters, Hanna Andersson, and Follett's college campus bookstores. This special edition is also available online at  With 100% underwriting by the Pearson Foundation, all proceeds from the sales price benefit Jumpstart and its work with preschoolers from low-income communities across the country.  Additionally, Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation, said that for Jumpstart's Read for the Record 2007, Pearson has extended its support for Jumpstart by matching book donations made by the public at with a donation of an additional book to another child from a low-income community.

In the foreword to The Story of Ferdinand special custom limited edition, Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira of NBC's The TODAY Show note, "While overwhelming research shows that quality early learning experiences are a way out of poverty, a path toward a future full of opportunity and a known deterrent to crime and drug use, more than one-third of American's young children will still enter kindergarten this year without the reading or language skills necessary to succeed.  When we learned about Jumpstart's efforts to address this problem, we decided to act."  Lauer and Vieira will Read for the Record live on The TODAY Show September 20th, along with hundreds of children and celebrities who will gather on the Plaza at Rockefeller Center to bring awareness to the importance of reading to young children.

Pearson Businesses The Financial Times Group, The Penguin Group, and Pearson Education Host Read for the Record Events Across the U.S.

This effort will be supported by thousands of individual reading events taking place on September 20th across the country.  As a kick-off to Jumpstart's Read for the Record, on September 17th, the Pearson Foundation is sponsoring a community "Reading Rally" hosted by Florida's Miami-Dade School District which is expected to engage more than 10,000 young people.  Following this kick-off, Pearson people from The Financial Times Group, The Penguin Group and Pearson Education at more than 40 locations across the U.S., will participate in local reading events as part of Jumpstart's Read for the Record on September 20th.  Together they will bring books, organize readings, and help young people make their own custom ABC books in a program based on the Pearson Foundation's Family Book Nights program. This year, for the first time, Pearson people across the globe will also Read for the Record, including local outreach to thousands of at-risk children across Latin America and in South Africa. 

"Helping to spotlight the importance of preparing young people for a lifetime of reading is crucial to everyone at Pearson," explained Pearson Foundation president Mark Nieker. "We know that in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, and in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one age-appropriate book for every 300 childrenMore than 80 percent of preschool and after-school programs serving children from low-income families have no age-appropriate books for their children."  He added, "These statistics need to change.  We hope this campaign will encourage others to help address this very solvable problem, and we hope it will also encourage people to donate books for the many children who have no books at home."

Thousands of Book Donations to At-Risk Preschoolers

Jumpstart president James Cleveland said, "Studies show that by first grade, the child from a low-income community will have one-fourth the vocabulary of their mid-income peer.  This matters because we know a child's reading level in first grade is one of the best predictors of his/her subsequent performance in tenth grade."  He added, "The Pearson Foundation's long-standing support of Jumpstart - and now its generous commitment to underwriting Jumpstart's Read for the Record - are playing an incredibly important role in assisting our work in solving the early-learning gap for our at-risk preschoolers.  With the Pearson Foundation matching book donations from the public, we will be able to provide thousands of books to those youngsters who need them most.  This is a tremendous addition to our campaign."

Register for the September 20th campaign now at  The Website also provides information about donating books to Jumpstart children, as well as hosting and joining shared reading events across the nation. A virtual version of The Story of Ferdinand, created and hosted by Pearson's Family Education Network, is available at

One of the best things about reading is that it can take place anywhere and everywhere.  Group reading events will be held in preschools, elementary schools, high-schools, and college campuses as well as libraries, stores, hotels, playgrounds, offices, and homes. Jumpstart's Read for the Record is not limited to large events. Any child and adult can participate just by sitting down to read - maybe even under a shady tree, just where Ferdinand would want to be.  For more information about Pearson and Jumpstart, go to

About the Pearson Foundation and Jumpstart

Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation share a passion for education and inspiring people to reach their full potential.  These shared goals and values led Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation to create the Pearson Teacher Fellowship in 2001.  Each year, the Pearson Teacher Fellowship provides the opportunity for a select group of achievement-oriented college graduates to enter the early education field by becoming preschool teachers in Head Start and other early learning centers serving at-risk children.  The Fellowship provides these talented individuals a stipend, intensive training, assistance earning teaching certification, and additional support and resources during the first two years of their teaching careers.  In 2006, Pearson and its businesses The Financial Times Group, The Penguin Group, and Pearson Education became a major sponsor of the inaugural campaign for Jumpstart's Read for the Record, which raised over $1 million for Jumpstart's work to help preschoolers from low-income communities with their language and literacy skills.  For more information, go to

About Jumpstart's Read for the Record

Jumpstart's Read for the Record is a national campaign to encourage hundreds of thousands of children and adults to read the same book, The Story of Ferdinand, on the same day, September 20, 2007. The expansive shared reading experience will raise public awareness about the early education gap that exists between income levels, as well as raise money to support Jumpstart's national early education programs, which benefit children from low-income communities across 20 states.

Jumpstart's longstanding relationships with its national multi-year partners are a key component of its ongoing efforts to help at-risk children develop their language, literacy, and social skills in preparation for kindergarten - support of the 2007 campaign by three of these partners, American Eagle Outfitters, Pearson, and Sodexho, is just one of many ways in which these corporations make Jumpstart's work possible. Jumpstart's Read for the Record is further supported by its campaign sponsors: Hanna Andersson, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, NBC, Penguin Young Readers Group (publisher of the custom limited edition of The Story of Ferdinand), Toys "R" Us, and XM Satellite Radio.