President Anne Skleder with preschool child
Brenau President Anne Skleder accepts a thank you card from preschoolers that featured a dragon made of their fingerprints.

President Anne Skleder promotes literacy by reading to preschoolers

Oct 29, 2021
Edie Rogers

Dozens of preschool children listened with fascination as Brenau University President Anne Skleder read aloud from Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon.

“‘It’s exactly the dragon Amy wanted to make,’” Skleder read in conclusion. “She used her creativity and got help from her family and she made her dragon, not somebody else’s dragon. And that’s important — to create things that make you happy.”

Skleder and her audience at Children of Grace Preschool in Gainesville, Georgia, joined millions around the world on Oct. 28 who read Kat Zhang’s book during Read for the Record. The event is promoted annually by the national nonprofit organization Jumpstart to bring attention to childhood literacy by attempting to set a Guinness World Record.

Skleder was energized by participating in the literacy-focused event but also drawn to the book’s themes of diversity, acceptance and self-affirmation.

“Activities like these are so important to foster literacy from an early age, as it means children will be more successful in their educational and professional pursuits,” Skleder said. “I also loved the book’s central theme of finding your voice as Amy did by remaining true to her idea. Finding your voice is a key part of the educational experience at Brenau University and especially in The Women’s College.”

The global Read for the Record event is in its 16th year and had more than 2 million participants in 2020. Children of Grace Preschool takes part in the initiative annually and invites a different reader from the community each year.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our students to be ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten, so we’re excited about anything we can do to help raise awareness for literacy,” Meg McPeek, school director, said. “We were thrilled to have Dr. Skleder read for us, especially as the first female president of Brenau University. We also appreciate her support of international initiatives because at Children of Grace Preschool we encourage children to see what’s going on in the community but also develop global awareness.”

After the reading, the preschoolers presented Skleder with a thank-you card that featured a dragon made of their fingerprints.

“I’m so appreciative of the hard work these teachers do to help children prepare to be successful in school,” Skleder said. “Our neighbors at Grace Episcopal Church are great community partners with Brenau University.”

Seven students from Anhui Normal University in China who are pursuing degrees in education at Brenau worked with the preschoolers on an art project to make a patchwork dragon. The exchange partnership between the two universities began in 2014.