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NORMAL - As the anticipation and excitement builds inside children everywhere this week, the Bloomington Kiwanis Club gave a few of them some early Christmas gifts Sunday afternoon at the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal.

Around 300 new books were given to Home Sweet Home Ministries and will be distributed to children from low-income families.

"By allowing the kids to take ownership of a book, it will help them take on a love of reading that hopefully will transform into a love of literature as they get older," said Mary Kramp, Grants Coordinator at Home Sweet Home Ministries.

Five children attended the event, listened to longtime Kiwanis Club member John Kirk's readings of "The Big Bad Wolf is Good" and "The Littlest Angel," and received two books of their own.

The handful gathered around Kirk as he read both stories were riveted to his dramatic facial expressions and the artwork in the books.

The Kiwanis Club used money collected from fundraisers to purchase the books through First Book McLean County, an organization that works to provide books to children from low-income families.

"By giving books the children can take home, it helps develop an interest in reading and learning within them," said Rob McDade, Fundraising Chair of First Book.

McDade said the idea is to be the missing puzzle piece between the children and books.

Craig Gocker, president of Bloomington Kiwanis said one of the club's primary goals is to help children in McLean County.

"Whether it's giving books, taking them on a picnic or taking them to camp, we want to help even just one kid," Gocker said.

Mary Kramp said the books are coming at just the right time.

"At Home Sweet Home, we've had a lot of children come in recently?| High school, middle school age and also this younger age group (10 and under)," she said. "This is a wonderful thing for that group."

Kramp said the books would be given out once a month, throughout the year.

"The love of a book is special to kids, especially when the book becomes their property," she said.

Lashal Rogers of Bloomington said her daughters Kyora and Khamiya Coleman were so excited to come to the museum and get books.

"Reading is a big part of what Khamiya loves to do," Rogers said. "I read to them all the time, and they're reading to me now too."

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