Another Summer School Book Fair

A to Z Literacy Movement had the privilege to host another local book fair this morning at Coventry Elementary School in Crystal Lake. Over one hundred students in grades first through fifth came to check out the selection of free books and then choose a few for their home libraries.

As we strive to meet our 2016 goals, A to Z will continue to provide books for children in McHenry County and other parts of Illinois in hopes in making a difference locally by promoting the love of reading and increasing literacy levels.

Crystal Lake Central Juniors Creating *Books in Bags*

A to Z Literacy Movement is grateful to Mrs. Welder’s English class of Crystal Lake Central juniors for once again taking on the wonderful project of *Books in Bags*. Each CLC student chooses a fiction or nonfiction picture book and practices reading and rereading the book aloud. The students then head to the school library to record their reading with Mrs. Nelson, Crystal Lake Central’s librarian.  Once the recording is complete, the students create a short comprehension check and discussion guide with questions and prompts to be answered or discussed by students in our Zambian partner schools. The *Books in Bags* are a fantastic asset to any classroom or library listening station, and we are really excited about this year’s selection of picture books. Thank you so much to the teachers and students involved in this literacy project!

Beep. Beep.

By Mal Keenan

Zambia is slowly building a small middle class. Very slowly.
And with a middle class comes more Zambian drivers.
Imagine a whole lot of 16 year old drivers on the road…that’s kind of
how it looks and feels. Some driving fast. Some driving slow.
Bumper to bumper.
Traffic jams.
Horns honking.
And the cars are changing, too.
Back home in Crystal Lake, my sons and I play the game “Slug Bug” when we
see a Volkswagen bug driving by, and I think I need to get that game going
here in Lusaka as there have been so many “Slug Bugs” passing by.
Slug Bug Green.
Slug Bug Blue.

No Summer Slide Here!

By Mal Keenan

photo(1)A to Z recently donated five boxes of children’s books to District 47’s Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee. The books were offered to families attending the last meeting of the school year in hopes to promote summer reading and boost at-home literacy.

photoAs a literacy coach, I am well aware of the “summer slide” that occurs when children do not read consistently throughout June, July, and August. By donating books for kids to take home, the hope is to maintain the reading skills these students have worked so hard on during the past nine months. And by getting books into their hands, we are continuing to meet our mission locally.

Dodgeball Was a Hit!

By Mal Keenan

2014-05-23 02.58.38For some, nothing says fun like diving to the floor while a bunch of foam balls are being hurled at you.It’s a sport of speed and agility. It takes a strong arm and fast legs. It’s perfect for middle school kids!

2014-05-23 03.35.38Last Friday, Belinda Strebel, a 7th grade teacher at Bernotas Middle School, coordinated the first annual Viking Dodgeball Tournament. Students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade – boys and girls alike – got their teams together – and came out for a fantastic time in the gym while supporting a worthy cause, A to Z Literacy Movement.

2014-05-23 03.12.42Because of the number of teams participating and plenty of guests coming to watch, we were able to raise enough money for another shipment of books, six boxes, to be mailed to Zambia in the coming weeks.

A to Z is so grateful to Belinda for putting this together and to the Bernotas administration for the opportunity to host this event.

Declutter: A Poem

By Pat Kelly

Spring is in the air

and along with it comes an urge

to clean up, clean out, sort and purge.

If you’re a Crystal Laker

we hope that you will save

the goods that are stockpiled when you straighten up your cave.

Clothing, kitchen items, whatever’s in the way,

hold on to them please, until the week of Earth Day.

April 20-26, drop your wares at the Savers store

Tell the man “This donation is for A to Z” before you walk out the door.

Savers will weigh our donations up, do some math

and write a check.

We all win- you, Savers and A to Z.

Thanks for making the trek.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Read!

By Pat Kelly

Perhaps you will be doing some cleaning of closets, the garage or (gasp!) the kid’s rooms this Spring. Are you weeding out the winter clothes you no longer want? Please consider putting a pile of donations aside for the week of Earth Day, April 20-26. Green is good- let someone else get some use out of your unwanted belongings.

A to Z Literacy is partnering with Savers, a Crystal Lake thrift store to collect used items and turn them into cash for our mission. This thrift store chain will pay us by the pound for the goods we amass. Unfortunately, we cannot take furniture, liquids or tires.

Anytime during April 20-26, bring your items to Savers, 230 W Virginia St. (Rt. 14), Crystal Lake. Please make sure to mention that the items are to be donated for the A to Z Literacy Movement fundraiser. Along with your receipt, you’ll get a coupon to use on your next shopping trip to Saver’s.



Getting Books into the Hands of Kids at The Clinic



By Anastasia Gruper

The anticipation of getting books into the hands of kids made setting up seem like an eternity.  First we met to pack the car full of books and shelves to display the plethora of titles.  Then we unpacked and set up in the Immanuel Lutheran gymnasium. The Brownie troop and Cole had a great handle on the set up; it would never have been completed so quickly without them.  As we moved boxes of books, we were able to chat with other non-profit organizations setting up for the clinic.  The passion and commitment of so many individuals was heart warming. Once the set up was complete, we waited patiently for the people to arrive.

As the first few people walked through the books, I watched as my friends and colleagues helped children find the perfect book.  Not wanting to steal the joy from anyone else, I waited my turn.  When a twelve year old girl brought her six year old brother through the line, I asked her what types of books she liked to read.  She shook her head no, as if to say she wasn’t interested. Her little brother had found four books rather quickly, and I knew from her glancing at the books that she would love a few for herself.  I picked up Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and began to tell her why I loved the book.  As if being polite, she accepted the book.  I moved on to A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and then First Light by Rebecca Stead. The girl took each book I chatted about. As I left the gymnasium, I prayed that something I said interested the little girl to read.  Something in my heart tells me she just needed to be encouraged to take a few.