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    Debra Johnson Garcia instructs a Head Start class at Grand Oaks Elementary using donated children’s books. From left are Mareli Marcileno, 5, Serfio Vargas, 4, and Diana Garcia, 5.

  • Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin worries that children who can't read at their grade level will end up in jail later in life.


    A teacher's flash cards help a Head Start class associate sounds with letters at Grand Oaks Elementary School.

CSUS professor on a mission to collect needed children's books

Published: Friday, Mar. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 - 8:14 am

Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin teaches speech pathology at California State University, Sacramento, by day and collects books for children by night.

In the past four years, she has donated more than 26,000 books for underserved grade school children in the region.

"How can you read and be a good student if you don't have any books?" Roseberry-McKibbin said on a recent morning at Grand Oaks Elementary in Citrus Heights, where she serves as a part-time speech therapist.

The longtime professor once relied on churches, friends and students nudged on by extra points for her book donations. Now, she is taking the book drive public.

"If you can't read, you'll likely end up incarcerated," Roseberry-McKibbin said, citing studies that show there is one book available to every 300 low-income children.

The fruits of Roseberry-McKibbin's book drive were on display last week when the professor read to students while visiting the Head Start preschool classroom at Grand Oaks Elementary.

"The kids love the books," said preschool teacher Stormy Dickens. "We get a good assortment."

In the last two years, the class of 20 has received 350 books for children to take home or read at school.

In addition, Dickens has created a school mini-library for students and parents to use.

The availability of books also helps children cope with reading disorders, said Debra Johnson Garcia, a speech language pathologist at Grand Oaks.

"If they don't know how to read, they can't get ahead," she said. "It's critical to get kids reading at grade level by third grade," because language development happens early on.

According to Roseberry-McKibbin, the goal is to get another 24,000 books by December. Since 2008, she has contributed 5,000 books out of her own pocket.

For more information and donation locations, go to or email

Lightly used children's books can also be donated at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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