On Friday, May 4, more than 600 guests gathered for the inaugural Book Lovers’ Breakfast and 7th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch at Bernie’s Book Bank. This was the largest and most successful Book Lovers’ benefit in history!

The event kicked off with testimonials from educators who have witnessed the impact that Bernie’s Book Bank has on the children in their schools.

“These book bags pull in the most reluctant reader, they fill classrooms with excitement and laugher and then in an instant they turn silent when everyone sits and reads,” Jennifer Gorton Parent Academy Program Director Chicago Heights School District 170 said. “That is the power and the magic that is happening with Bernie’s Book Bank.”

Next, Founder and Executive Director Brian Floriani took the stage to share the purpose behind our mission.

“A legitimate pursuit of happiness is predicated on two things: who you know and what you know. If you grow up in an at-risk community chances are you won’t know who you need to know. Your one chance to pursue happiness is what you know,” Floriani explained. “What you know is built on a quality education, that education is built on being a reader, being a reader is built on being reading-ready when you enter kindergarten, and quality book ownership is a critical piece to the entire puzzle.”

Bestselling author Mary Kubica agreed, “Books do so many things for us, they inspire us, they educate us, they teach us empathy, they are a wonderful escape, they make us feel many things.” Kubica shared her journey and the vital role that books played in her childhood.

Prior to the event, Kubica brought her two children with her to volunteer at Bernie’s Book Bank for a firsthand look at our mission. She described the impact of the volunteer session on her children, “My kids were excited and motivated to do more; they left with an awareness that the books that we have at home that are a privilege that not every child has.”

There are many people to thank for making our spring benefit a success. We’re incredibly grateful to all of our sponsors for their support, especially Allstate for being our presenting sponsor. Many thanks to our Co-Chairs: Caroline Abzug Ceisel, George Grawe and Cheri Reid as well as the 33 Table Hosts who invited guests to share this incredible day. Special thanks to Catering by Michaels, Palmer Printing and Terlato Wine Group for their support.

If you attended either one of our Book Lovers’ Events this year, THANK YOU! Without you, we would not be able to serve 300,000 at-risk Chicagoland children with 12 quality book each year.

Photo credit: Susan Ryan Kalina