HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Schools across Connecticut kicked off the 18th annual Read for the Record program on Thursday to foster a love for reading among kids.

Students at Michael D. Fox Elementary School in Hartford began their day Thursday with a performance from the school band to kick off the program.

“We have different themes. Each year, it’s a different author, and we partner with Jumpstart, which is a national organization that does part of the selection process,” said Eric Harrison, the president and CEO of Greater United Way of central and northeastern Connecticut.

This year, volunteers will read the book, “With Lots of Love,” by Jenny Torres Sanchez to kindergarten classrooms.

“It’s a story about a family that leaves their homeland and is in a new place, and this young girl misses her grandmother and the culture, the heritage that she’s leaving behind,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguwez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.

Torres-Rodriguez is one of several volunteers reading to students this year, and she even tells the story in Spanish. Speaking Spanish is a skill set that Torres-Rodriguez said comes in handy due to the large number of languages spoken in the Hartford Public School District.

“We are an inclusive environment, and everyone is welcomed here,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “There’s strengths where they come from, their differences, we celebrate everyone for who they are.”

The Greater United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut is heading up this annual event, where volunteers also visit school districts across the state. The goal is to share with students the gift of reading.

“We know at United Way that if children are able to read by fourth grade, they’ll be set up for success for the future,” Eric Harrison said.

According to many educators, reading is a life-changing tool and a significant building block for the future.