The Children’s Section is a Teacher’s Delight!
“As a second-grade teacher at Franklin Primary in Peoria, I see first-hand the impact reading has on children. Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image. Many of our children live in poverty and have no books of their own,” shared Gunz. “Getting books in the home helps to break the cycle.”
Gunz will go to great lengths to encourage reading, including coming to school dressed as her favorite children’s book character, Pinkalicious. She and her fellow teachers created a reading-centered family night each month to improve relationships with families, nurture parental involvement, foster literacy at home and teach parents how to encourage their children to read. Families who attended the recent family night received a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of twenty books she purchased at the Books to Benefit sale. Families had to be present to win.
“Books and community service have been an integral part of our lives,” added Gunz, “beginning with my father Larry, who, for 40 years, worked in a management role at Library Book Selection Service,” which is a nonprofit organization that reviewed books for school libraries from kindergarten through high school. “My mother is a retired school teacher who volunteers at Books to Benefit. When the organization needed help sorting used book donations in the children’s section, my mom encouraged me to get involved. It was a natural fit and offered another way to honor my dad’s memory. My boys, ages 12 and 14, also volunteer at Books to Benefit. Supporting literacy through community service is a family legacy.”
Since many of the Books to Benefit patrons are teachers, Gunz sorts the children’s books the way she shops for her own classroom: by age group, highlighting series, authors and award-winners, separating teacher resources, offering multiple copies for class sets and creating a non-fiction category. She frequents the $5 bag day at the end of the sale to purchase resources for her classroom.
The next Books to Benefit sale will be May 18-21 at 360 Wylie Drive, Suite 700 in Normal. Over 25,000 books, sorted by genre, will be available for sale. All books are donated, and the proceeds benefit STAR Adult Literacy and YouthBuild McLean County’s literacy programs. Staffed completely by volunteers, Books to Benefit keeps operating costs at a minimum.
Listen to WJBC AM 1230 on Tuesday, May 9 between 2 and 2:30 p.m. to learn more about how Diane and her family support literacy, or visit the children’s section at the May 18-21 sale to see for yourself!