Over 3,500 elementary students in the Wentzville School District will receive at least one free book this month thanks to the efforts and vision of a grandmother and educator, Faith Gardner.
Gardner, who works as a diagnostician for the District, is the founder of Camie’s Literacy Group (CLG). She established the group almost three 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, with the help of the St. Charles City-County Library Foundation, has donated nearly 10,000 books for District 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.”
Through the joint effort, St. Charles City-County Library Foundation is providing 2,200 new books this year for distribution in the Wentzville School District. CLG is providing an additional 1,400 books to the effort. The new books will go to students enrolled at Quail Ridge Early Childhood Center, every kindergarten student enrolled in the District, as well as first- and second-graders at Heritage, Lakeview, Duello, Discovery Ridge, Peine Ridge and Prairie View Elementary schools.
This moves the group one step closer to Gardner’s goal of providing books to all District students in kindergarten, first and second grades.
"I am just so grateful and excited that Camie's Literacy Group can guarantee that every child now has a book to call their own,” said Heritage Primary first grade teacher Katherine Middeke upon receiving the donation. “Here at Heritage, we foster a love of reading and we want to make that home connection. Camie's Literacy Group makes this all possible. Thank you from ALL of our 'cubs'!"
For more information about CLG or to donate to their effort, visit www.camiesliteracygroup.org.
(Submitted by Wentzville School District)