Over 2,600 books will be given to first and second-grade students at five Columbia elementary schools as part of the Heart of Missouri United Way’s Read Across Columbia program, sponsored by MU Health Care. There will be a special delivery and book reading at Benton Elementary School, 1410 Hinkson Ave, Columbia, MO 65201, on Wednesday, October 11 from 9:30-11 a.m.   

At the event, remarks will be shared by Dr. Brian Yearwood, Superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, Ric Ransom, CEO of MU Health Care, Sarah Sicht, Principal of Benton Elementary School, and Andrew Grabau, President and CEO of Heart of Missouri United Way.   

Katrina Lambrecht, COO of MU Health Care, will then read the children one of the Read Across Columbia books entitled “Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria” 

“Read Across Columbia engages the community in having a direct role with our kids in building futures together,” said Grabau, “By providing books to first and second grade children, we are reaching them early so they can thrive” 

Heart of Missouri United Way removes this barrier to literacy by giving kids their very own books. Through the partnership with Columbia Public Schools, MU Health Care, and United Way will provide 650 literacy bags with 4 books and a coupon for a free book from Daniel Boone Regional Library (totaling 2,600 books) this fall.     

The books provided this fall include: The Crossover, Where Wonder Grows, Listening to the Stars, (IM)possible: The Untold Story of Henry Kirklin, The Father of Agriculture  

The schools that are receiving books this year include Benton, Blue Ridge, West, Alpha Hart Lewis, and Parkade Elementary Schools.     

In collaboration with the Read Across Columbia efforts, the University of Missouri Women’s Basketball team is offering two free tickets to the December 2nd game to children who read two of the free books they received through Read Across Columbia.