Here’s the stark reality: Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. And, the Commission on Reading has found that introducing a child to books before starting school is the single most significant factor influencing their early educational success.
So, books are essential. But, low-income neighborhoods have a severe lack of books. The ratio of books to children in these areas is one to 300. And, 61 percent of low-income homes do not have a single children’s book.
It’s a tough problem to face, but Bernie’s is tackling it head on. The Lake Bluff-based nonprofit collects, sorts, and distributes relevant and age-appropriate books to at-risk children across Chicagoland. Children receive 12 books per year, for 12 years, fostering the opportunity to create a life-long love of reading. The team at Bernie’s has distributed more than 10 million books since it was founded in 2009.
Our mural is a reminder to commuters, passersby, and the community to reflect on the opportunities our students have because of books. When students are faced with a challenge, represented here as a canyon to cross, they are able to use books as the stepping stones, literally and figuratively, to overcome struggles and accomplish their goals. As books brighten up and enrich our lives, our mural paints a picture of a bright sunny day in the city filled with hope, aspiration, and achievements, and the books that create those opportunities.
Books tell us a story, let our imaginations run wild, teach us about history, help us learn a new craft, and allow us to look to the future with hope. The long-term impact books make on children leads them to countless opportunities and open doors: college degrees, a love of the arts, a career in science, and much, much more. Books can change the story.
As a long-time supporter of Bernie’s Book Bank, we’re proud to highlight our partnership and bring awareness to this organization. With Bernie’s leading our community in change, we can all work together to support our kids and give them the foundation they need to lead a successful life. To learn more about Bernie’s Book Bank, how to donate, and how to volunteer, please visit www.berniesbookbank.org.