Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From Cover to Cover Opens 2015-2016 School Year At...Monroe, of Course!

Our year is officially off and running!  On September 18th we visited Monroe Elementary in Davenport for our first book and blanket donation of the school year.  74 sweet kindergarten kiddos joined in our story, Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes and left with their special gift.  What a great, respectful, excited little bunch they were!

An article published this week has fueled our passion for continuing our work with From Cover to Cover.  Once again, there is research in the news backing the importance of our mission and our commitment to working with Title One schools in the Quad Cities.  Monroe has been our starting point and we would like to expand these opportunities to other schools in the area.  During the 2015-2016 school year, we will continue to provide extra opportunities for students at Monroe to build their home libraries and participate in enrichment literacy activities all free of cost.

We are in need of a little extra help right now while we wait for our 501(c)3 status to be official.  Can you help us get our next program up and running at Monroe?  You can read more about our goals at our Go Fund Me Page:

Every dollar counts and puts another book in the homes of the children we work with.  We appreciate your help and support.  It truly makes a difference int he lives of so many kids in our community.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Initiative: Book Crate Library Book Drive

This week we announced our newly named Snuggle Up and Read Campaign and we are excited to make our first big announcement regarding our expanded literacy project!  We will continue working with our pilot school, Monroe Elementary, during the upcoming school year to promote literacy, empower families, and build home libraries for their students.

"Over 60% of low-income families have no children's books in the home.  Just like their wealthier peers, children need books that they like, ones they choose themselves, at their level, and on topics that interest them." (Source:

Having fewer than 25 books in the home is an indicator of poverty.  We take this statistic, as well as literacy studies pertaining to children living in poverty, very seriously.  It is one of the reasons we started this project and why we have been focused on building home libraries through periodic book donations and free book stores throughout this past school year at Monroe.

So what do we have up our sleeve?  We would like to ensure every kindergarten student at Monroe has 25 books in their home!  How do we plan to do that?  By launching a large book drive over the summer in hopes of acquiring enough books for 90 students to create their own home library of, you guessed it, 25 books.  We hope to achieve this goal by attaining new books, gently used books, or cash donations from our community supporters.  That is a total of 2250 books and we would love to deliver them at the beginning of the school year to kick off our campaign.

We have spent a lot of time speaking with the family liaison and principal at Monroe over the course of the year.  They have shared with us that many of their students do not have consistent housing and books they may have might get left behind.  We have an idea we hope will work when the kids move:  delivering the books in crates.  This will provide a safe place for them to keep their books at home, as well as an easy way to transport them if necessary!

Want to help us with the book drive?  We would appreciate it!  Here are a few suggestions, but please feel free to use your creativity as well:  Vacation Bible School or church drive, garage sale or thrift store scavengers, or a neighborhood drive.  If you have books you would like to donate, they can be dropped off at the Mel Foster location in Bettendorf on Spruce Hills Drive.  We hope to add other locations this summer, so please check back for more information.  If you would like to donate money, you can do so here through our Paypal site, at any First Central State Bank location, or by mailing a check.

Please email us at with any questions, comments, or to notify us of a book drive you have set up.

Book Crate Library

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Snuggle Up and Read Campaign

We are about to wrap up our second school year and could not be more thrilled and encouraged by what we have achieved this year.  When it's all said and done, we will have distributed more than 3000 new and gently used books to local children as well as nearly 400 book and blanket sets at five different schools.  We hosted two Family Literacy Nights at Monroe Elementary and were also blessed to have two authors give of their time to talk to and encourage the children we serve.

Though it feels like we should have time to rest and regroup, this really could not be farther from the truth.  The summer will be filled with working to obtain our 501(c)3 status, writing grants, community awareness events, and planning for the upcoming school year.  Our eyes continue to be opened each and every time we visit a school.  We are learning how important it is to continue getting books into the hands of children and providing programs that empower caregivers as well as the children.

This is why we will be working hard to obtain grants and raise funds to support our Snuggle Up and Read Campaign (formerly known as Family Literacy Nights).  We needed a more encompassing name, as Family Literacy Nights just didn't cover all of the work we did at our pilot school, Monroe Elementary, this year.

The Snuggle Up and Read Campaign will not only include Family Literacy Nights, but book donations and free book stores set up throughout the year.  We hope to provide more opportunities for families to gather, read together, and learn to incorporate reading strategies for all abilities at home.  We will continue working with our pilot school and, if funds allow, expand to a school yet to be determined.

Of course our year will be filled with book and blanket donations as well.  We love meeting all of those sweet kindergarten children throughout the Quad Cities.  Our project continues to evolve and we are excited about where the next year will lead us.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Final Push: Part 2

Wow.  These past two days have been magical.  Students in kindergarten through third grade at Monroe and Jefferson Elementary had the opportunity to listen to author and illustrator Michelle Nelson-Schmidt share an amazing, inspiring message.  Last fall when I read about Michelle and the message she shares with children, there was something in my heart that just knew she needed to come and visit the kids we serve.  What we got was so much more than we could have ever imagined. 

Her job title may be author and illustrator, but she may want to reconsider that title.  This woman is a very gifted motivational speaker for all ages, but the message she shares about listening to your heart voice and following your dreams could not be more amazing for children.  Her message is even more amazing (if that’s possible!) for children who may have challenging home circumstances or need some encouragement.

Over 650 children were blessed to hear these words, among many others, over the past two days:

“Each and every one of you has something to offer this world and only you can give it to us.” 

This message was not preached, but thoughtfully shared with the kids.  Can you imagine the gift this can be to a child?  Someone telling them, “You are special.  You matter.”

Michelle shared the journey to her magical, wonderful life starting at age 4.  A box full of special paper and pencils lead her to a passion for drawing.  In high school, she was introduced to painting and fell in love.  She put herself through an art college working three jobs, using this experience to share with the children this valuable lesson: 

“When you are doing something for yourself; for what you want in your heart; not for anyone else.  Not for your parents, your teachers, or your friends…for you.  Even when all of the hard work makes you tired and cranky, and it will, you know what it won’t do?  That hard work will not make you quit, because it is worth all of that hard work.”

One day on this journey, she listened to the whisper she had as a second grader.  At that time she believed the best job in the whole world would be to write and illustrate picture books, but never shared this with anyone because she was scared.  She was scared of the, “What if’s.”  Through hard work, determination, and the willingness to listen to the whisper in her heart, she overcame her fear and three years of rejection to become a published children’s author.

She shared so many wonderful, encouraging messages with these children about finding their passion, listening to the voice in their heart, and following their dreams.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“When you listen to your heart voice it will lead you to your magical life.  You need to try new things to see what lights you up inside.  Sometimes trying new things is scary.  It’s hard, but you have to try to find out what lights you up inside.”       

“There might be a time in your life when you feel like no one understands you and no one gets you, because you’re staying true to your heart voice.  If you don’t give up, I promise you, your people will find you.  Stay true to yourself.  They will show up for you.”


To conclude her presentation, she gave all of the children an opportunity to make a pinkie promise and boy did they take her up on it!

 “I promise Miss Michelle I’m going to follow my heart.  I’m going to follow my dreams.  With everything I got, no matter what, no matter what if.  And I’ll tell her one day.”

I had the privilege of listening to hundreds of kids make this promise and it brought tears to my eyes:

The opportunity we were blessed with truly cannot be described through words.  We saw twinkles in the eyes of children.  We saw kids stand up a little taller.  We heard children say, “Wow.  That was awesome.  Michelle is awesome.” 

One little girl even said, “Hold on!  I have to tell her one more thing.  She actually listens to me!”  Precious.   

After the visit at Monroe, Michelle had a third grade boy ask her, “Do you really believe it?  I mean, really?”

Michelle:  “Believe what?’

Boy:  “That we can do what we want one day-our dreams?  Do you really believe in us like you say you do?”

(She got down on her knees so she could look him right in the eyes)

Michelle:  “I believe it with all my heart.  And I know it, with all my heart.  I’m not just a grown up saying words.  I mean them.  I will ALWAYS believe in you.  And I love you.  And I always will.  I promise.”

Boy:  He didn’t say anything else.  He just hugged her hard, smiled, and walked away. 

Can you imagine how many other children went home last night and looked at the world a little differently?  Who went to bed thinking, "I am special.  I can have a magical life, too."

We would like to express a HUGE thank you to Michelle for saying, “Yes.” 

For coming to Iowa to speak to hundreds of kids and spreading her message of hope and encouragement.  It made a difference.  Hundreds of our friends received her book, Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster and I have a sneaking suspicion it will hold the title of their favorite book for a long, long time.

Michelle shares her art work

Signing books.  The kids could not wait!

Sharing Dog and Mouse with the kids

Answering some questions

Some of the lives she touched

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Final Push: Part 1

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, we are working hard to reach as many kids as we can before the long summer break begins!  We wanted to share a quick recap of our last two donation events with you along with some awesome pictures of some the special kids we have met in the past few weeks.

On April 24th, we went to Delwood Elementary in Delmar, Iowa.  We were the recipients of a grant from The LincolnWay Community Foundation and used this funding to do many things!  We provided a book and blanket donation to the kindergarten class.  They were thrilled!  It was the first time we had seen the children open their bags and their reaction was priceless.  They were snuggled in their blankets and reading their new book in minutes!

This visit was extra special, as we featured a local author, Kim Jacobi.  All of the students in the lower grades received a signed copy of her book Richard the Donkey and His Loud, Loud Voice.  She spent some time with the kids sharing her journey writing a children's book as well as answering questions from the kids.  The students in the upper grades also received a chapter book to take home.

We had one last surprise up our sleeves.  We used our remaining funds to purchase books to add to the school's library.  Utilizing a Literacy for a Lifetime 50% matching grant program from Usborne Books and More, we provided over $1100 worth of new books for all ages to be housed in the school's small library.  We had a wonderful afternoon sharing our message with the wonderful kids at Delwood.

Meeting Pete and Kim Jacobi

Reading a new book

Kim Jacobi (author), Sue Goodall (principal), Christina and Gina at the donation

All snuggled up reading

Kim sharing her book with all of the lower grade students

A bunch of new books for the library
On May 1st, we visited Washington Elementary in Davenport, Iowa, and donated 44 book and blanket sets to the kindergarten students.  The kids did a wonderful job listening and singing along to Pete the Cat:  I Love My White Shoes and were thrilled to meet Pete the Cat himself.  It was a wonderful morning and the kids couldn't wait to get back to their classrooms to snuggle up and read during their reading block.

It's been a great year and we aren't done yet!  Stay tuned for a recap of our author visit and Family Literacy Night!  It's going to be a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring may have just sprung, but it is going to be one busy time for From Cover to Cover!  The school year will be wrapping up before we know it and we have a lot of work to be done between now and the end of May.  We can't wait to share what has been going on behind the scenes!

On February 25th we completed our third book and blanket donation of the year.  Over 60 sets were given to the sweet kindergarten students at Buchanan Elementary in Davenport.  They LOVED a surprise visit from Pete the Cat and their gift.  They were excited to take their new book and blanket home to snuggle up and read!  A huge thank you to our volunteers who lovingly made blankets for this donation.

We will have two more book and blanket donations this year.  One will be at Delwood Elementary in Delmar.  We received a grant from the LincolnWay Foundation for this school and are looking forward to a special surprise for their students.  Details to come soon!  We will also be donating to one more school in Davenport and will share that news once it has been arranged.

The much-anticipated author visit will be in May.  Kindergarten through third grade students at Jefferson and Monroe will be treated to a visit from Michelle Nelson-Schmidt.  She will also present at our second Family Literacy Night at Monroe.  This visit has been made possible by grants from Theisen's and the Bi-State Literacy Council.  We have also received funding to provide one of the author's books for the students from the Morning Optimist Club in Davenport and the Davenport Kiwanis Club.  A huge thank you to these wonderful organizations for their donations.  

We have been working on several fundraising events in order to fulfill our mission.  The Putt Putt Golf event was so much fun and we were so pleased with the turnout.  Thank you to all who supported and attended the event and to the LincolnWay Foundation for the opportunity to be a beneficiary of the funds raised.

On April 4th, we will be hosting a Children's Expo at CASI in Davenport from 9:00-3:00.  Several vendors will be on hand to share their products and services appropriate for children.  Think of it as a "one-stop shop" for all things kids!  We would like to thank Humana for sponsoring this event and look forward to sharing our full line up with you later this week.  Pete the Cat will be making an appearance, too!

Finally, we will be the featured organization of the night (well, day) at the Quad City River Bandits game on Sunday, May 24th.  We are so excited about this opportunity to not only raise funds but spread awareness about our organization.  You can purchase your tickets from us for only $9.  A portion of these sales will go directly to our organization.  Get the family together and head out to the ballpark for a day of fun and support From Cover to Cover.  We've heard it's Toy Story day, so it should be FUN!

As we prepare to wrap up our second year in operation, we truly cannot thank all of our volunteers and supporters enough.  We are slowly and steadily growing and sharing the importance of reading with so many wonderful children in our community.  We can't wait to see what our third year will bring!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Moving Forward: Our Vision

Fundraising.  In order to fulfill our mission and get books and blankets into the hands of the children we work with, we have to continue to raise awareness about our organization and programs with those in our community and, you guessed it, raise funds.  The success and growth of our programs relies on our ability to attain grants and the support of individuals and businesses in our community.

As we continue to grow and expand our programs, the need for additional financial support also grows.  Perhaps you are wondering what we hope to achieve with these new programs and why we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of providing these opportunities, free of charge, to low income schools in our area.  Today, I'll answer a few of those questions.

Why are these programs important to the growth and development of our community?  

Our Family Literacy Night events will provide opportunities for the students the school simply cannot afford in an effort to help the next generation acquire the literacy skills needed to break the poverty cycle.  Literacy is the key to future success.  A study from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that two-thirds of students who cannot read past the fourth grade level will end up in jail or on welfare.  The children we are working with are the future of our community and by providing them with books, enrichment activities, and empowering their parents, we can make a positive difference in their lives.

What are our goals moving forward?

We will continue to share our message about the importance of reading with kindergarten students at targeted schools in the Quad City area and conclude our presentation with a book and blanket donation for each student.  We hope to expand this program into Clinton County next year by adding another branch to our organization.  

This year we have spent a lot of our time and resources focusing on providing additional literacy opportunities at Monroe Elementary.  With the addition of Family Literacy Nights, book donations, and our upcoming author visit, students at Monroe have been able to grow their home libraries, received extra hands-on literacy instruction outside of school, and had someone (other than their teachers!) talk with them about the importance of reading. We would also like to implement a pledge-based reading program encouraging students to read 300 minutes over a two week period.  At the conclusion of the two-week period, all students who have met their goal will receive a new book of their choice.  

Over time, we hope to strategically expand these programs throughout the Title One schools in the Quad Cities.

How will we fund these programs?

We will continue to apply for grants and seek community support.  We currently have three fundraisers planned in the upcoming months.  For more information, please refer to our involvement page on our website.

We are currently seeking local sponsors to help support programs and improve literacy proficiency among children living in our own community.  Individuals and businesses are invited to choose a level of sponsorship that works for them.  All donated funds will stay within the Quad Cities and are tax deductible.  For more information about this opportunity, please email us at or click here to open our sponsorship form.