A Decade in the Books


Please join us for our 10th-anniversary celebration and fundraiser.

We are hoping to see you on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in a very cool, NEW location–Smith’s Central Garage–and a NEW time from 5:00-8:00. You will be able to enjoy wine samples from Garfield’s, craft beers from area breweries, and delicious appetizers while bidding on silent auction items.

Head to atozliteracy.org to purchase tickets, $35 per person in advance, or $40 per person at the door. If you are unable to attend, please consider making a donation to support our mission.bug bullet copy


New Venue for February Fundraiser & Celebration

Smith's outside

By Pat Kelly

What do corrugated metal barn siding, reclaimed bleacher wood and A to Z Literacy Movement have in common? They are all pieces of our upcoming fundraiser “A Decade in the Books”, to be held at a hip new venue in McHenry called Smith’s Central Garage. Formerly a mechanic’s garage, Smith’s has brought a unique gathering place to the vibrant riverfront area north of Route 120. It is a well planned site with lots of industrial metal, concrete and wood. The bar inside is a casual, homey hangout constructed of vintage materials with a focus on Chevrolets. A fantastic space to hold a fundraiser!

So get out on Saturday, February 2nd and join us at Smith’s Central Garage from 5-8 p.m! Come on inside this cozy locale and sample wines and local beers, bid on some gift baskets and support A to Z as they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Afterward, other interesting spots such as Bimbo’s Italian Restaurant and McHenry Brewing Company are just around the block awaiting your visit.

Inside Smith's


The Gift of Literacy…Under the Christmas Tree

By Betty Trummel

As long as I can remember, giving or receiving books as Christmas gifts has been a family tradition. For readers young or old, unwrapping a new book holds such potential.

Will the reader be entertained by a great story or fascinating characters? 

Or, will a nonfiction book provide new information on science, history, or culture? 

Could it be that special book that just captures our hearts with  great illustrations or photographs or whimsical tales that stand the test of time?

On a recent visit to Boston I was reminded of two classic children’s books that I hope find their way under many Christmas trees and into the hands of young readers this year.


“Make Way For Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey made Boston and its Public Gardens familiar to children around the world. These bronze statues in the Public Garden today immortalize the ducklings, depicting them making their way through Boston’s historic park.



In E.B.White’s “The Trumpet of the Swan” the main character, Louis the trumpeter swan, visits the Boston Public Garden and accompanies the famous swan boats as he plays his trumpet.  



These are two of my favorite children’s stories. I read both books when I was young and shared them with my children and students countless times through the years!

What books will you give or hope to find under your tree?

The Gift of Reading

By Mal Keenan


Are you giving a good book to someone on your gift list this year?

Books can be enlightening and exciting.


They move you.

Change you.

Affirm you.

Books act like windows to better understand other people’s lives,

Helping the reader to become more empathetic of others.

Books can also act as mirrors,

To help us see ourselves more clearly in the larger human experience.

Books encourage us to think more deeply about the world around us.

Perhaps you might consider giving a book (or two) as a gift this holiday season?

Blog inspired by the work of Rudine Sims Bishop (1990)

You Need to Read

By Pat Kelly

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Yes, you hear it from time to time, however, now research even backs it up. Reading as little as a half an hour a day will impact your longevity significantly in a positive manner. Becca Levy, Yale professor of epidemiology, led a study which supported that a benefit of reading, and not just any reading, but the reading of books, grants an individual a “significant survival advantage” over those who don’t.

This is powerful information! The researcher reports that by spending as little as 30 minutes a day with your nose in a book, you can increase your life as much as two years compared to someone who is not a reader. And indications are longer periods of reading per day are better. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor; encourage time spent off electronics and on page turning!

Smiles, Everyone! Smile.


Doing some holiday shopping online instead of in store? Did you know your purchases can make a difference? At no additional cost to you, Amazon Smile donates a small percentage to A to Z Literacy Movement when you make purchases through their website . . . and it works with Prime customers, too. 

Here is the Amazon Smile link to get started on your holiday shopping.

To date, A to Z Literacy Movement has received over $200 in donations through generous Amazon shoppers! Thank you! Thank you!



Surrounded By Books


By Alia Hammerstone

One of the most vivid, tangible memories I have as a child is growing up surrounded by books. They were omnipresent- lining the bookshelves in my grandparent’s home, stacked on my desk as a child, crowding dressers in my parent’s bedroom. My grandparents loved nonfiction; scores of their books were political in nature and introduced me to the 1960s and the founding fathers. My mother loves fiction; historical fiction, fantasy, mystery- you name it. Book fairs were a treasured event as a student and were supported with enthusiasm by my parents. I remember book logs with fondness- they marked not only my voracious appetite for reading but a collection of conversations I had with my parents and teachers alike.

Growing up, my mother encouraged my siblings and me to read and lead by example. Despite our age difference, I remember curling up in our family room with my three younger siblings and her reading aloud to us. We sat, transfixed, as she read the series to us- I must have been almost a senior in high school sitting side-by-side with my younger siblings enamored with the story, and my mother’s love of literature. We spent hours together as a family, listening to the stories and building lifelong memories.

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember being in sixth grade, and my mother recommended it to me- it was, after all, one of her favorites, too. I have that same book still; the corners are a bit bent and torn, and the name on the inside cover reflects my middle-school scrawl. The beginning of the novel drew me in from the first page- who was this rapscallion of a girl who romped around town with her brother and friend? What fountain of dignity did her father draw from? Who were these people with unique names and circumstances? Atticus inspired me with his unflappable conscious; he stood as a fictional figure who guided my thoughts on social justice. Scout inspired me with her courage and curiosity; she stood as a fictional figure who guided my thoughts on what family and friendship truly mean. Honestly, I think my passion for equality and a more just world stems from my early experiences with injustices solely brought to my attention through the lens of Harper Lee. To this day, I reread the novel from time to time, savoring in the storyline and learning something new each time. A favorite book is like an old, familiar friend- one you can reminisce with as well as grow with over time.

Flash forward to the present – where I have books lining the shelves of my home, stacked on my desk at work, and crowding dressers in my own bedroom. There are books I received as gifts, carefully inscribed, books I have inherited from family, books I have swapped with friends, and even books I have stored away for my own children someday. I know that my family’s love of literature has indelibly shaped my own passion, and inspires me to continue working with A to Z in spreading the joy of reading.