Dinner raises funds for preschool literacy

DEKALB — A fundraising dinner aims to help local children from low-income families break the cycle of poverty— with books.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, 43 percent of American adults with poor literacy skills live in poverty. A 2011 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who do not read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than proficient readers. Poor readers who also live in poverty are six times less likely to graduate.

The Bookcase for Every Child project aims to break that cycle by encouraging early literacy. Many low-income families have no books of their own for parents to help their children develop reading skills and a love for reading.

Through the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project, 50 local children will receive handcrafted oak bookcases and a collection of new or gently-used preschool-level books of their very own. The bookcases are built by volunteers, and each bears a nameplate engraved with the child’s name. The bookcases will be presented to children at a banquet in the spring.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, a fundraising banquet will be held to raise money for materials and to collect books to stock the bookcases. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road in DeKalb.

Dana Stover, the wife of Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker, will emcee the evening.

Tickets are $16 each, or tables of eight are available for $125. For the price of a book, diners can enjoy a meal and entertainment provided by the DeKalb High School A Capella Choir. Each diner will also receive a free copy of “Learning, Earning and Giving Back: A Guide to a Happy and Successful Life,” by nationally-syndicated columnist Jim Davison, the founder of A Bookcase for Every Child.

Guests are invited to bring new or very gently-used books appropriate for children ages 3 to 5. No religious texts or books for older readers.

Tickets can purchased in advance or reserved and held at the door. For tickets or reservations, call John Rey at 815-758-8577.

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