Reflecting on Professional Learning in Zambia

As the 2016-17 school year began last week, I spent some time reflecting on the summer months along with A to Z’s work in Zambia this past June. A wonderful memory that continues to linger in my mind is our day of professional development with 150 Zambian teachers at School of Hope.

Teachers from all over the area came together to learn and grow; men and women wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Dave, Betty and I provided teachers with opportunities to attend sessions on reading, writing, asking questions, and literacy in content areas. There was something for everyone.

Without a doubt, I am confident that A to Z is continuing to impact the lives of Zambian students and teachers. Although our nonprofit is small, our educational impact is large.  By providing valuable support, we have increased literacy levels and the love of reading within schools and communities.

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.

First Grade Service

by Anastasia Gruper

When two boxes of books were anonymously shipped to A to Z, we wondered who could have done such a kind deed.  However, when a note arrived the following week with a money order for $200.03 our questions were answered and hearts warmed.  Miss Martin’s first grade class at Alwood Elementary School choose A to Z Literacy Movement as the charity they wanted to contribute to for their year long service project. All year students collected change and books. Furthermore, they manned a lemonade stand for the two reading nights their school hosted. As we talked about the efforts of the first grade class, we were all reminded of how when everyone works together goals are accomplished.  Thank you to Miss Martin and her first grade class for contributing to our cause and helping to increase literacy in the impoverished areas of Africa.  With the help of first graders and students everywhere, we will continue to make the world better.

Christmas at Good Shepherd

By Anastasia Gruper


Betty Trummel and I get to pose with some very important people.

Children walked with their arms wrapped around books to donate as they entered Good Shepherd Hospital to see Santa. Throughout the night, they were engaged in various activities.  While some sat to tell Santa and Mrs. Claus what they wanted for Christmas, others created reindeer heads to carry home their “reindeer food.”  Still others gobbled up cookies and hot chocolate. When the fireman sat to read Twas the Night Before Christmas, the children all gathered excitedly on the carpet.  And when Santa started the caroling, everyone joined in.  This all was possible because the elves had planned and organized it all so well.



Through the hum of excitement, children stopped to inquire about literacy both locally and globally.  As they signed their names with hearts on book plates or purchased backpacks, they asked about kids in Africa. Some sat to watch and ask questions about the images of the children reading and writing.

My son, Michael, gets to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus!

My son, Michael, gets to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus!


As we packed up to leave, my five year old son turned to me and said, “It looks like the kids in Africa will be getting a lot of gifts for Christmas.”  I smiled back at him and said, “Yes, thanks to so many who donated.”

Books! Thank You!



Thank you, Mary Windsor, from the Elmhurst Library, for donating three wonderful bags of children’s books. As with all of our donations, volunteers will sort through the stacks and decide what books are best for kids here in Illinois and what books will be shipped to schools like Mango Grove Community School in Zambia, Africa.

Please feel free to check out our book donation guidelines to see if you have a few books to donate.