Classic children's book The Little Engine That Could is centerpiece of National Early Education Campaign

Record-setting reading event set for August 24: Pearson, Penguin, and the "Today" Show Partner in Charitable Initiative to benefit Jumpstart's Read for the Record.

In a first-time initiative to bring awareness to the importance of reading to young children, the international media company Pearson (NYSE:PSO) and its Penguin Young Readers Group are partnering with Starbucks, American Eagle Outfitters, and the "Today" Show to support Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign.  On August 24, The Little Engine That Could with its "I Think I Can" message will take the spotlight as people of all ages read this children's classic and  set the world record for the most individuals reading the same book in a single day. 

Throughout the month of August (while supplies last), a custom limited edition of one of the most beloved classics in children's literature, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, with new art work by Loren Long, will be sold in more than 5,000 U.S. Starbucks stores.  With 100% underwriting by Pearson, all proceeds from the $9.95 Starbucks' sales price will benefit the non-profit organization Jumpstart and its work with at-risk preschoolers across the country.

People can support the Campaign by registering at www.readfortherecord.org to read The Little Engine That Could, on August 24, 2006 - in your own home, at a local library, or at an organized reading event in your community.  See www.readfortherecord.com/events for a listing of events already scheduled and resources/tips for creating local events.
 
Jumpstart's Read for the Record supporters include Mrs. Laura Bush, Honorary Chairperson, who is also bringing awareness to the Campaign with national public service announcements, in which she says, "Preparing children for kindergarten is vital to their success, and one of the best ways to get them ready is to encourage their love of reading.  On August 24th, support school readiness and help set a world record by reading The Little Engine That Could with a child in your life. Together we can make early childhood education a national priority."

NBC's Matt Lauer  has written the forward to the custom limited edition of The Little Engine That Could, and will Read for the Record live on the "Today" Show.  Hundreds of children will gather at Rockefeller Center around a replica of The Little Engine for reading activities most of the day.

Matt Lauer commented: "One of the greatest pleasures in my life is reading with my children, Jack and Romy. When I watch them as we read, I find myself energized by their hunger to discover new things and humbled that I can participate in the intimate experience of seeing them grow and learn before my very eyes. This is the interaction between children and adults that is at the heart of Jumpstart's Read for the Record."

 

Rob Zeaske, Jumpstart Vice President for Development, said, "For many years, Jumpstart has benefited from the ongoing support of Pearson, Starbucks and American Eagle Outfitters.  Now, we are very excited that for Read for the Record, Jumpstart's corporate partners have collaborated to create a unique charitable partnership, with Penguin Young Readers Group publishing the custom limited edition of The Little Engine That Could, Pearson underwriting all costs, and Starbucks retailing the book in their U.S. stores."  American Eagle Outfitters has produced the official Campaign t-shirt.  All three partners are hosting Read for the Record events which will involve employees across America, including 20,000 Pearson employees in 50 locations.

Bill Barke, CEO of Pearson Addison Wesley Higher Education and Jumpstart Board member, said, "Research tells us that one in three children in the U.S. enter kindergarten without the vocabulary and other related skills necessary to succeed in school, and that these same youngsters fall farther beyond their peers throughout their school years.  Pearson is committed to working with Jumpstart and our other colleagues in the field of early childhood education to address this issue, and provide innovative solutions to begin to reverse these alarming statistics."  He added, "Our hope is that the Read for the Record campaign will bring awareness to this crisis and play a part in helping to solve what we believe is an entirely solvable problem." Barke also noted that through Pearson's Family Education Network, people will have the opportunity to not only register for Read for the Record online, but also read the digital version of The Little Engine That Could in both English and Spanish during the month of August at www.funbrain.com.

Penguin Young Readers' President, and publisher of The Little Engine That Could, Doug Whiteman, said, "We are proud supporters of Jumpstart and believe the inspiration of The Little Engine That Could's "I Think I Can" message is a wonderful match to Jumpstart's mission of preparing preschoolers from low-income communities for success in school.  By pairing college students up with these youngsters, Jumpstart is providing them a unique one-to-one relationship that will help them develop the language and social skills they need to enter kindergarten."

"This is an opportunity for us to show Starbucks' commitment to positive community development, not only today but for future generations," said Jim Alling, president North America, Starbucks Coffee and Jumpstart Board Member.  "Starbucks is proud to shine the spotlight on Jumpstart's straightforward solution to the early education problem through Read for the Record."     

Jumpstart's Read for the Record Website also provides the possibility to purchase The Little Engine That Could for an at-risk child who may have no books at home.  Support early literacy. Register now to read The Little Engine That Could to a child on August 24.

About Jumpstart

Jumpstart is a national early education organization that works toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. Through extraordinary attention in yearlong one-to-one relationships, Jumpstart inspires children to learn, adults to teach, families to get involved, and communities to progress together. Headquartered in Boston, Jumpstart pairs 2,500 trained adults one-to-one with preschool children in need of assistance.  During the 2005-2006 program year, Jumpstart served 10,000 children in 60 communities across 22 states, in partnership with 225 Head Start and other early learning centers across the country. Jumpstart's national sponsors include American Eagle Outfitters, AmeriCorps, Pearson, and Starbucks. Jumpstart is the recipient of the Fast Company/Monitor Social Capitalist Award (2004, 2005 and 2006) and the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy's Directors Award. For more information, visit the Jumpstart Website at www.jstart.org.  For more information about Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign, visit www.readfortherecord.org.

About Pearson

Pearson plc (NYSE: PSO) is an international media company. Its major business operations are: The Financial Times Group, which has an international network of business and financial newspapers and online services that are read by millions of business executives and investors every day; Pearson Education, the world's leading education business, which helps teachers teach and students learn at every stage and in every part of the world; and Penguin Group, which is one of the pre-eminent names in consumer publishing, with an unrivalled range of fiction and non-fiction, bestsellers, and classic titles.

Jumpstart and the Pearson businesses share a passion for education and inspiring people to reach their full potential.  These shared goals and values led Jumpstart and Pearson 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, mentoring from a Pearson professional, and additional support and resources during the first two years of their teaching careers.  For more information, go to www.pearsonfoundation.org.

Further information

Kate Miller
VP Communications
1-800-745-8489
Kate.miller@pearson.com