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Illinois Judges Association Reads to Local Schools

In honor of Abraham Lincoln's life and legacy during the month of February, Judge Douglas Gruenke, alongside numerous Illinois judges, brought the world of law and history to grade school students through a special reading program. The initiative, organized by the Illinois Judges Association, saw Judge Gruenke delivering sessions based on Martha Brenner's popular children's book, "Abe Lincoln's Hat," to ten classes across Effingham and Taylorville.


The program is designed for students in kindergarten through fourth grade to foster a love for reading while learning valuable lessons in history and the legal system. Dressed in their judicial robes, the judges engaged with students by reading the book and discussing its connection to Lincoln's life and the law. Each classroom received a copy of the book for their library, courtesy of the judges.


Judge Mary Schostok, a justice in the Appellate Court, Second District, and former President of the Illinois Judges Association, spoke on the importance of addressing reading deficiencies among school children. Citing surveys by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Schostok highlighted the impact of reading proficiency on academic success and future prospects, particularly for students from low-income families.


Schostok says, Abe Lincoln's Hat is a whimsical portrayal of the 16th President's adventures, it offered insights into Lincoln's character and his unique memory aids, such as storing letters and legal documents in his iconic top hat.


This reading initiative is part of the Illinois Judges Association's greater commitment to community engagement, which includes programs like "Page It Forward" reading and tutoring, "Courtroom in the Classroom" celebrating the U.S. Constitution, and educational sessions addressing issues like substance abuse, cyberbullying, and legal literacy.


For more information on these programs, those interested can visit the Illinois Judges Association's website ija.memberclicks.net/in-school-programs.

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