You know the song from Guys and Dolls, the one Sister Sarah sings after she loses the bet against Sky Masterson and pays up by going with him to Havana? Cue the music: Ask me how to I feel . . . Well, Sir, all I can say is if I were a gate I'd be swing-ing!/And if I were a watch I'd start/ popping my springs!/Or if I were a bell I'd go ding dong, ding dong ding! 

Add to that, If I were a fish I’d be flip-ping! Because that’s how I’ve been feeling since I heard the big news—Like that swing-ing gate, that spring-popping watch, that ding-dong-ing bell, that fish!  Some of you may know why. For those who don’t, cue the trumpet!

My little book, NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press), is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book for 2015!!!

What’s that mean? Only that, on October 22, 2015 children and adults will read Not Norman together, aloud, it what can become—for the Record—the world’s largest shared reading experience! You, too, I hope.

In case you don’t know, Jumpstart is a non-profit early education organization with a mission of helping every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. Their motto is:

How does it work?Jumpstart recruits and trains college students and community volunteers to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Through a proven curriculum, these children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.”

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, began in 2006, to raise awareness of the achievement gap and Jumpstart's work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods—and to raise funds to support programs. Candlewick Press, Jumpstart’s partner in the 2015 campaign, in addition to other contributions, will donate some 13,000 copies of the Jumpstart special edition (available in Spanish & English) to ensure that anyone who wants to participate, can!

Thrilled as I was when Jumpstart announced Not Norman as the 2015 Read for the Record book, the magnitude of this honor didn’t really register until I did some digging into the history of past campaigns. Since 2006, when more than 150 thousand children & adults read The Little Engine that Could on the same day, thus earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records*, funds raised, number of books given to children—for many their first book—and number of children & adult participating has burgeoned. The record high to date is almost 4.3 million, set in 2012, when children & adults reading the same book on the same day! Totally freaks me out to think my little fishy story is on the list with such time-honored classics, all for a single purpose: Helping children read & succeed!

For the record: Yes, learning to read the words in a picture book is the goal. But we all know it’s the picture on the cover that compels children to pick up a book, and the illustrations inside that keep them turning—and returning—to those pages. Let’s hear it for Noah Z. Jones!

  I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event  6 years  after Not Norman was published.

I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event 6 years after Not Norman was published.

Believe it or not, Not Norman is Noah’s first picture book! And, bucking traditional illustration techniques, Noah utilized his animation background and tech-know-how while he was at it; the art for Not Norman by computer!

Way back then, 2002-3, computer generated illustrations in picture books were unheard of. In fact, some reviewers scoffed. The rest of us, especially kids & I, loved it! One look at that cover, at that boy’s face peeking through the fishbowl with Norman as his nose, and I just have to laugh-every time!

You know, the 3rd thing I did, after learning Not Norman, a Goldfish Story, had been named Jumpstart's Read for the Record book for 2015? I went on a crazed Internet search. I looked up everything I could about Jumpstart, all about past Read for the Record Campaigns, and of course, the other 9 Read for the Record books.  You can bet my mind was ding-dong, flippin! Here's the list:

JUMPSTART Read for the Record books:

2006: The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper (more than 150,000 children & adults read the story on the same day, earning that 1st  spot in The Guinness Book of World Records.)

2007: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (258,000 children & adults participated)

2008: Corduroy written by Don Freeman (688,000 participated)

2009: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (2,019,752 participated)

2010: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (2,057,513 participated)

2011 Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (2,185,155 participated)

2012: Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman & Jacky Davis (4, 2,385,305 participated)

2013 Otis by Loren Long (2,462,860 children & adults participated)

2014 Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells (2,383,645 children & adults participated)

Add to that:

Not Norman, A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett & Noah Z. Jones (How many children & adults participate on October 22, 2015 is up to us . . . )

What’s especially exciting is that this is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record and Not Norman’s 10th birthday! I sure hope you’ll join me in helping to make this 10th campaign a record breaker. Here’s How:

Mark Your Calendars: READ FOR THE RECORD DAY is October 22, 2015

Pledge to Read: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/register-read

Get Involved: Donate! Join the Team! Be a Sponsor! http://jstart.org/get-involved/get-involved1

Buy the Jumpstart Special Edition of Not Norman: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/jumpstart-shop  (English & Spanish available):

Play Around: Check out the free resources on the Jumpstart Toolkit: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/toolkit

Spread the Word: Please share the Jumpstart Read for the Record link on social media word-of-mouth, too! http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-for-the-record

Who's Reading for the Record? Playlist:

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