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Community leaders continue BJC Book Brigade, despite pandemic


Todd Thomas, Joe Buck and Khalia Collier, among others, join new story time video series June 23, 2020
June 23, 2020 Todd Thomas, Joe Buck and Khalia Collier, among others, join new story time video series

BJC HealthCare’s Book Brigade is in its fifth year of distributing books to rising third graders throughout the communities served by BJC hospitals. This year the program will provide more than 24,600 books in 328 public and charter schools in 64 districts throughout Missouri and southern Illinois.

In past years, BJC leaders visited classrooms throughout the community to read the books that were being sent home with students. The COVID-19 pandemic and early school closings changed those plans but didn’t stop the Book Brigade spirit. Instead, reading to students at their schools, BJC leaders and dozens of community members are bringing the books home to the children this summer through virtual story times.

Starting Thursday, June 11, a video from a BJC leader or community member will be posted to the BJC Book Brigade Story Time Video Series on BJC’s YouTube channel. The videos will also be available on Workplace in the BJC Caring for our Communities group. 

Readers include:

  • Rich Liekweg, Dave Braasch, Jackie Tischler, Dr. Doug Pogue, June Fowler, Bob Cannon, Rick Stevens, Sandra Van Trease, Trish Lollo, Ann Abad and Tony Schwarm of BJC HealthCare
  • Joe Buck, Fox Sports announcer
  • St. Louis Cardinals and Blues emcees Todd Thomas and Angella Sharpe
  • St. Louis Ambush players
  • Carolyn Kindle Betz, MLSFORTHELOU owner
  • Khalia Collier, St. Louis Surge owner and general manager
  • A team member from the St. Louis Zoo
  • Local media personalities from KMOV-CBS, KTVI-FOX and KSDK-NBC

Since 2016, the BJC Book Brigade has provided more than 100,000 new books to graduating second graders in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Columbia, Sullivan and Farmington in Missouri; and Alton, Belleville and Shiloh in Illinois. Curriculum specialists select titles based on age-appropriate content and storyline messages, and through a partnership with Scholastic Books and St. Louis Black Authors, BJC employees purchase books.

“Research shows that third graders who are reading at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school and live a healthier life,” says June McAllister Fowler, BJC communications, marketing and public affairs senior vice president. “This program is more important than ever, now that our future third graders are spending more time at home because of the COVID pandemic. Getting books in their hands and providing videos of stories being read each week this summer will help them get ready to read in third grade this fall.”

  • Watch this story time video to hear Shirley Washington, FOX 2 News anchor, read You Make Me Happy by Smriti Prasadam Halls as part of the 2020 BJC Book Brigade Story Time Video Series.
  • Watch this story time video to hear Jackie Tischler, BJC senior vice president and chief people officer, read Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio as part of the 2020 BJC Book Brigade Story Time Video Series.
  • Watch this story time video to hear Todd Thomas of the St. Louis Cardinals read Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3) by Ben Clanton as part of the 2020 BJC Book Brigade Story Time Video Series.
  • Watch this story time video to hear Rich Liekweg, BJC president and CEO, read "The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark" by Deborah Diesen as part of the 2020 BJC Book Brigade Story Time Video Series.

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