Fifty-two local preschoolers will receive personalized bookcases and starter libraries on Saturday, May 4, at the DeKalb-Sycamore Bookcase Project’s second annual awards ceremony. Volunteer craftsmen constructed 50 solid-oak bookcases, each with a brass nameplate bearing the name of a disadvantaged student at Two Rivers Head Start. Two bookcases will be shared by sets of siblings. Each bookcase will be filled with donated preschool-level books.
The public is invited to gather with the children and their families from 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, May 4, at Huntley Middle School, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb, for a special ceremony in which the children will receive their bookcases.
The purpose of the Bookcase Project is to instill a love of reading at a young age. Research has shown that the more young children read and are read to, the more their literacy skills improve, which has benefits from better grades and college prospects in youth to higher adult income and more engagement as a citizen in adulthood.
“The more that you read to a child at that age, and the more they learn to love books, the easier it is for them to love to read,” Head Start center supervisor Lisa Annen said at the 2012 awards ceremony.
The speaker at this year’s ceremony will be Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy. Storyteller Phyllis Horst will engage the children in the audience with interactive stories, and Cub Scout Pack 131 of DeKalb will perform a flag ceremony. After the ceremony, cookies and punch will be served while volunteers read stories aloud to small groups.
A new feature in this year’s bookcase distribution is hand-painted book bags. DeKalb-Sycamore Bookcase Project steering committee member Katherine Cessna had her art students at Serena High School decorate plain canvas bags with a literary theme; each child will receive a one-of-a-kind painted bag filled with books for their bookcase. Volunteers sorted through thousands of donated books collected over the past three months. Books at higher reading levels will be donated to other local nonprofits. The funds for the materials used in the bookcases are raised through the project’s annual literacy banquet in February.
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