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Project aims to create a generation of readers

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 10:53 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Shaw Media file photo)
Deserea Schiller, 3 of DeKalb, sits inside a new bookcase that she received from the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project at its first distribution in 2012. The personalized bookcases were built by local craftsmen with donations from local residents and were awarded to children from the Two Rivers Head Start program, along with starter libraries to fill them.

DeKALB – A fundraising dinner aims to help local children from low-income families break the cycle of poverty – with books.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, 43 percent of American adults with poor literacy skills live in poverty. A 2011 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found children who do not read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than proficient readers. Poor readers who live in poverty are six times less likely to graduate.

The Bookcase for Every Child project aims to break that cycle by encouraging early literacy. Many low-income families have no books of their own for parents to help their children develop reading skills and a love for reading.

Through the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project, 50 local children will receive handcrafted oak bookcases and a collection of new or gently-used preschool-level books of their very own. The bookcases are built by volunteers, and each bears a nameplate engraved with the child’s name. The bookcases will be presented to children at a banquet in the spring.

In 2011, the all-volunteer project’s first year, 50 families from Two Rivers Head Start received beautiful oak bookcases, each containing 30 or more books.

On Thursday, Feb. 14, a fundraising banquet is set to raise money for materials and to collect books to stock the bookcases. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road in DeKalb. Guests will have a choice of a spaghetti or Polish sausage entrée.

Tickets are $15.95 each, or tables of eight are available for $125. For the price of a book, diners can enjoy a meal and entertainment provided by the Harambee Percussion Ensemble, a drumming corps based in DeKalb elementary schools. Each diner will also receive a free copy of “Learning, Earning and Giving Back,” a guide to a happy and successful life by nationally-syndicated columnist Jim Davidson, the founder of A Bookcase for Every Child, while supplies last.

Guests are invited to bring new or very gently-used books appropriate for children ages 3 to 5. No religious texts or books for older readers, please.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or reserved and held at the door. For tickets or reservations, call John Rey at 815-758-8577 or send your name, address, number of tickets desired and a check made payable to the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project to P.O. Box 1174, DeKalb, IL 60115. Reservations must be received by Feb. 5.

MidWeek Editor Dana Herra is a member of the Bookcase Project steering committee.

Literacy Banquet

6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14

DeKalb High School cafeteria

Choice of spaghetti or Polish sausage

Tickets are $15.95 each or $125 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets, call John Rey at 815-758-8577 or send your name, address, number of tickets desired and a check made payable to the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project to P.O. Box 1174, DeKalb, IL 60115.

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