United Way of Lake County donates 800 diverse books for local students

Read Across America Book Drive donations promote positive equity message 

GURNEE – United Way of Lake County recently partnered with the 19th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, the Lake County Bar Association and the Association of Women Attorneys of Lake County to conduct a book donation drive that aimed to increase local elementary schoolchildren’s access to books promoting a positive equity message.

The book drive resulted in more than 800 diverse books, including many bilingual books, for K-5 students at North Elementary in Waukegan. The books are by diverse authors and feature diverse characters, according to the news release.

United Way of Lake County understands the critical importance of a child’s early years and is focused on building equity in the community, which starts with education, according to the release. United Way’s Reading Success program helps ensure all students can read at grade level by the end of third grade and be on track to succeed in school and graduate. Many Lake County judges volunteer each week as reading tutors in the program, giving students individualized help to improve their reading skills.

This year, in celebration of Read Across America, the judges and their judicial partners wanted to do more by providing books to help inspire the joy of reading and create a community of diverse readers. Collection boxes were placed at the Lake County court house facilities and at the Lake County Bar Association. In addition, the Lake County Bar Foundation and AWALC sponsored the book drive by generously contributing $1,000 each along with cash donations by community members. In total, $3,117 was raised to purchase new books for local students.

“On behalf of the Lake County judges and our judicial partners, I want to thank United Way of Lake County for their Read Across America Book Drive initiative,” said Judge Reginald Mathews, co-chair of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court’s community outreach committee. “Our judges were excited to participate in this book drive which was focused on creating diverse readers. We believe that the more a child reads and reads about different cultures, the more successful the child will be, which in turn will benefit not only that child and their family but society as a whole.”

“I am constantly impressed with United Way of Lake County’s community efforts and contributions,” said Jenny Chang-West, first grade teacher at North Elementary. “My students have benefited greatly over the years due to the Reading Success program. Not only do they get quality reading support, but they also get the opportunity to interact with a community member in an engaging way. This recent book donation with an emphasis on equity is just another example of United Way’s commitment to education for all.”