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African-American Leadership Society starts virtual book drive in celebration of Black History Month

You can donate to buy books for five students, or an entire classroom, at Madison Elementary School in Davenport.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — For Black History Month 2021, the African-American Leadership Society of the United Way Quad Cities wants to reach students at Madison Elementary School in Davenport by spreading a Quad Cities story. 

"Any time adults are taking care of children, I'm all for it," Shellie Moore-Guy says.

Moore-Guy is a local author and activist, and she wrote How Little Billy Learned to Play. That's the book that AALS wants to get into students' hands, through a virtual book drive.

You can donate to buy books for five students or an entire classroom.

The story is inspired by the life of Jazz Musician Bill Bell, who grew up in the Watertown neighborhood of East Moline. Moore-Guy says he graduated from United Township High School, Augustana College and the University of Iowa. He later became a renowned 

"He became a renowned jazz musician, professor and mentor to many," she says.

Moore-Guy hopes his journey makes a meaningful impact on students. 

"It was the people -- his family -- it was all of these things that helped shape Bill Bell," she says. "They also help to shape us all. We accomplish nothing by ourselves. We're mentored, loved and nurtured by our families, communities and neighborhood blocks sometimes." 

AALS Manager Kayla Babers says this book drive is part of their mission as an organization. 

"Here we are spotlighting this Black author, then integrating this into the schools with kids," she says. "Kids of all backgrounds can benefit from Black narratives and Black stories."

Moore-Guy hopes her book teaches the adults something too. 

"We have a responsibility to make sure that each kid that we encounter is able to reach their full potential," she says.

Moore-Guy and Babers say this book drive is also important to promote and boost third grade reading proficiency, which is key indicator of how likely a student is to graduate high school.

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