Collaborative Lifts Up Literacy During Reading Month And Beyond

Book drive
Hundreds of books were collected over the holidays and will be distributed throughout Calhoun County.

Nearly 2,000 new children’s books towered wonderfully and precariously high on the tables of the boardroom at United Way’s Battle Creek location recently.

The books, the result of a holiday drive organized by Barnes & Noble, were sorted and boxed by members of the Battle Creek Community Literacy Collaborative, but they won’t stay that way for long.

They’ll soon be delivered into the hands of eager young readers across Calhoun County.

March is National Reading Month, and we join the CLC and all of our partners in celebrating literacy efforts in our communities, where a high level of literacy is the key to a high quality of life, economic self-sufficiency, and family stability.

Through projects and events like the book distribution, the Community Literacy Collaborative works to promote community literacy, encourage collaboration among organizations that are interested in literacy, and support opportunities for children and families to engage in literacy experiences together.

CLC partners, in addition to United Way, include Barnes & Noble, Charitable Union, Early Childhood Connections, Grace Health, Kellogg Community College, Opening New Worlds, Raising a Reader, Willard Library, and Woodlawn Preschool.

It’s one of many community collaboratives that United Way leads, supports, or manages outside of its current funded partner agencies. These collaboratives work with various nonprofit agencies, existing programs and new programs created by United Way specifically to maximize their collective impact in the areas of income, education, health and basic needs.

CLICK HERE to learn more about who we partner with.

March Reading Month event

To celebrate March as National Reading Month, the CLC is planning “Books, Blocks & Beats” on March 22 and 23. The pair of community events – free and open to the public – will allow children to build with blocks, play with rhythm instruments; and of course, read and listen to stories. Every child will receive a snack and a free book.

“Books, Blocks & Beats” details are as follows:

  • March 22 from 2:15-2:55 p.m. at The Gathering Place/Burma Center, 765 Upton Ave., Springfield.
  • March 23 from 10-10:40 a.m. at New Harvest Church, 155 West Van Buren St., Battle Creek.

Other ways the CLC is working to support literacy

  • Community events: Each summer, the CLC sponsors a large community event to promote family reading experience. In 2016, the “Flash, Crash, and Read” event saw over 100 community members read stories about police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. Families could then explore the vehicles they read about and meet the community service workers who drive them.
  • Awareness: More than 1,000 refrigerator magnets with tips on how to read to children were distributed at Grace Health last year.
  • Support: The CLC supports access to and donates books for Little Free Libraries, free neighborhood book exchanges that encourage the public to “take a book, leave a book.”
  • Distribution: The CLC donates books for use in public spaces such as restaurants and community organizations.

Get Involved!

CLC is seeking volunteers to read stories at local organizations such as Charitable Union during busy days to keep children occupied while parents are busy. If you are interested in volunteering as a reader in our community or obtaining books for your organization, please contact Jennifer Nottingham, Associate Director of Community Impact, at or 269-962-9538, ext. 727.