In a building filled with balls, bats and ballerina slippers, where children run, jump, dance and play, it may seem counterintuitive to find a place devoted to the more serene act of reading. But thanks to a partnership between the St. Charles Park District and Bernie’s Book Bank, the Pottawatomie Community Center is now a gathering spot for gently-used children’s books as they await distribution to at-risk children throughout the Chicago region.
A nonprofit literacy organization that connects children needing books with books needing children, Bernie’s Book Bank serves more than 80,000 infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout the city of Chicago and its suburbs. Since Bernie’s Book Bank was founded in 2009, more than two million books have been distributed. By placing a donations bin at the Pottawatomie Community Center, the St. Charles Park District contributes to the literacy goals of the organization – namely, putting books in the hands of the children who need them most.
“We are proud to join Bernie’s Book Bank in this worthy effort,” said Holly Cabel, director of parks and recreation for the park district. “Reading skills are as important as physical development in a child’s growth, and we support Bernie’s Book Bank in their mission to bring the joy of reading to children of all ages.”
Here’s how the program works – just drop off any new or gently-used children’s books in the Bernie’s book-drop donation bin in the lobby of the Pottawatomie Community Center. Volunteers from Bernie’s Book Bank collect the books, process them into appropriate age- and reading-level categories and deliver them directly into the hands of low-income children who have no books of their own. Each child served by Bernie’s Book Bank receives a minimum of 12 books a year – books that are theirs to keep forever.
In 1996, a “Reading Literacy in the United States” study determined that 61 percent of low-income families have no books for children in their homes. Children who are introduced to books as infants and toddlers enhance their chances of success as they enter kindergarten. School literacy programs have a greater likelihood of producing capable readers if students can continue reading at home. By providing children with books of their own, Bernie’s Book Bank gives children the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of reading.
If your child or a child you know has outgrown the books he or she has been fortunate enough to own, consider donating these treasures to Bernie’s Book Bank. Help the St. Charles Park District help kids develop strong minds and strong bodies.