Children’s Book Fair hosts Read for the Record

Staff Writer

The Jumpstart Children First organization will be at the Hyde Park Children’s Book Fair on Sept. 22 to introduce the community to its Read for the Record Program.

The Hyde Park Children’s Book Fair will take place from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22, in Nichols Park at 55th Street and Kimbark Avenue. Families that visit the Jumpstart organization at the fair will be asked to make a pledge to participate in Read for the Record, a national campaign where people read a designated book to children on the same day.

Kelly said one of the main reasons Jumpstart is visiting the fair is to get families ready for the official Read for the Record event on Oct. 3.

“We ask people to make an online pledge to read and once they’ve read, go online and post that they read the book,” said Karina Kelly, Chicago executive director of Jumpstart, about the program that has been in existence for about eight years. “Last year we had 2.3 million readers. We want to break our previous record – we are the only record holders.”

The designated book for this year is “Otis” by Loren Long. State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) is scheduled to read this year’s book at the fair. Storytimes will take place at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and books will be available for purchase at 57th Street Books.

The mission of Jumpstart is to help prepare 3 to 5 year olds academically for kindergarten. The organization works in primarily low-income communities where early childhood education may be available but parents have challenges with access and affordability.

“A lot of classrooms are under-resourced so they rely on donations and sometimes the donations are not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” Kelly said. “That is where we feel we can make an impact.”

Jumpstart has been in Chicago for about 10 years and has been in existence on the national level 20 years.

While families and volunteers can read and check in from any location on Oct. 3, Jumpstart will host a reading of “Otis” at the Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., during the museum’s Kraft Family Free Night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. They will also be giving away 1,000 free copies of the book on that night.

For more information about the Hyde Park Children’s Book Fair, visit

For more information about Read for the Record, visit