Pete the Cat and other storybook characters, all costumed volunteers from Assistance League of St. Louis, paraded through America’s Center on Saturday, August 5 to kick off the Books from Friends program for the 2023-24 school year. Following the parade, volunteers hosted a booth at the Urban League Back-to-School Expo. Aspiring young readers who visited the booth received age-appropriate books to take home, with more than 6,200 books being distributed dur-ing the Expo. Visitors to the booth also had a chance to meet local guest author Micheal Anderson, whose Zoey Lyndon series is a favorite with middle grade students. Ms. Anderson autographed 300 copies of Zoey books and personalized them for the children. All of the books teach life lessons, and the author says she wrote the books so that children who look like her will see characters they can relate to in the books they read.

”We hope the parade and books will help these young people know how much fun reading can be” said Assistance League of St. Louis president Denise McKibben. “Last year, as our volunteers visited and read with children at Head Start programs and other early childhood settings, we distributed more than 18,000 books through Books from Friends to encourage a love of reading.”