More than 3,000 students in the Wentzville School District received a free book this month thanks to the efforts and vision of a grandmother and educator.
Faith Gardner, who works as a diagnostician for the District, is the founder of Camie’s Literacy Group (CLG). She established the group almost eight years ago after being inspired by her granddaughter Camie’s love of reading.
Gardner says the idea that all children don’t have access to age-appropriate books at home was unacceptable to her, so she enlisted the help of her family, friends and coworkers in order to get CLG off the ground in 2009. That year, CLG provided a free book for every kindergarten, first and second grader enrolled at Heritage Primary. Since that time, the non-profit has donated over 26,000 books for students to take home and keep as their own.
CLG’s mission, according to Gardner, is to “encourage the love of reading books in young children. To this aim, we dedicate ourselves to the goal of obtaining and distributing an appropriate new book to those most in need. Our greatest hope is that every child will have a new book to call their own.”
The group once again reached their goal of providing new books to every kindergarten and first grade student enrolled in the district, and were able to expand this year and donate books to students at Barfield Early Childhood Special Education Center – a total of 3054 kids.
CLG also donated 900 additional books to four elementary schools in the Fort Zumwalt District and essential skills classrooms in the Wentzville School District and Stone Creek and Wabash elementary schools to help build their new libraries.
“Camie’s Literacy Group continues to give books to students every year because reading is the most important skill a child can learn,” shared Gardner. “Learning to read is a very difficult task and without reading materials at home, a lot of students lose some skills over the summer.”
CLG holds a trivia night annually to raise money to purchase the books that are given away. They also started an Earn to Learn program at Duello Elementary where kids get pledges from family and friends based on how many books or how many minutes they read. Between the two fundraisers, CLG brought in more than $6,000 to purchase this year’s book donation.
“Putting books into the hands of our students is a beautiful thing,” said Discovery Ridge kindergarten teacher Callee Barrett. “Thanks to Camie’s Literacy Group, my kindergarten students have a nonfiction book that will help continue their love for reading.”
For more information about CLG or to make a donation, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/camiesliteracygroup.