Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive

Reading mentor Karen Osolin speaks to the media about her role with I READ during today's announcement

(Rockford, Ill. - 11/05/2014) – Barnes & Noble and United Way of Rock River Valley are teaming up this holiday season for a drive to provide books to student throughout Winnebago and Ogle counties. During the months of November and December, Barnes & Noble at Cherryvale Mall will ask customers to purchase a book for young readers that will be sorted and distributed to Harlem, Oregon, and Rockford public schools, which participate in United Way's early-grade reading program, I READ. Last year, 4,400 books were distributed to students.

"Giving a book to a child from infant through high school is making a difference in literacy. For some children it is the only gift they receive during the holiday season," says Sherry Zabikow, Community Relations Manager, Barnes & Noble.

Every November, Barnes & Noble stores across the country collect books through its two-month holiday book drive, which benefits children in need, and each store location selects its own local recipient group. This year, Barnes & Noble at Cherryvale Mall once again chose United Way for its work in early-grade reading through the United Way I READ program. United Way I READ matches reading mentors with kindergarten students that need additional support as identified by the school, and assists teachers in preparing those students to read proficiently by fourth grade. Volunteers meet with their students weekly for 20 minutes during the school day and are encouraged to follow them through third grade. In its fourth year, approximately 350 kindergarten through third grade students at 18 schools in Harlem, Oregon, and Rockford school districts connect with reading mentors, resulting in the largest children's literacy mentoring program in our community.

"Children generally are learning to read until third grade. By fourth grade, they should be reading to learn because coursework increases and reading becomes more challenging. Students who do not read at grade level find it increasingly difficult to keep up," says Tonya Thayer Meyer, Volunteer Coordinator, United Way of Rock River Valley.

United Way's early-grade reading program focuses on children at the kindergarten to third grade level. Customers are encouraged to purchase English and bilingual book titles for children through third grade. The Holiday Book Drive runs through December 31, 2014.

For more information on the Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive, contact Sherry Zabikow, Community Relations Manager, by calling 815-332-3069. For more information on United Way's I READ program or to volunteer, call Tonya Thayer Meyer, Volunteer Coordinator, at 815-968-5400


Multimedia: Click to watch a video of the announcement


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley advances the common good in Winnebago and Ogle counties, creating opportunities for a better life by focusing on education, income, and health. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.