Local Nonprofit Helps Teachers Build Classroom Libraries

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LINDENWOLD, N.J. -

Teachers are tasked with preparing classrooms for their students and a lot of those supplies are paid for out of their own pockets.

So, a local organization is trying to support teachers by helping them build libraries right in their classrooms.

It’s been a year since one local teacher started BookSmiles, an organization that focuses on putting books in the hands of children.

“BookSmiles is a foundation that sources, collects, and distribute tens of thousands of books to South Jersey youth," said Larry Abrams, founder of BookSmiles. "We believe in saving books from the trash.”

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The hope is to provide each child with 100 books. But on Tuesday, September 4th, it was all about the teachers.

“We’re asking only 10-cents a book, which will then be used to purchase Spanish books," said Abrams. "We have a huge ESL population and it’s always nice to be able to provide Spanish and English books to get all kids on the path to reading.” 

The teachers dug through 11,000 books in the media center at Lindenwold High School to find a variety of titles for their classrooms.

“We want these teachers to bring home massive amounts of books, put them in their classrooms, and then they can share with the kids," said Abrams. "They can have a library right in their own classroom and they’re only spending a few dollars for it. Not hundreds and hundreds of dollars.”

“I was doing kindergarten last year and now I’m teaching middle school so I’m just trying to build up a classroom library," said Colleen Hoile, a teacher at Coopers Poynt School. "The kids really appreciate it. And the many different varieties of books we can get, the better. Something that might spark their interest.” 

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And providing them with quality books for such a low price means a lot to these teachers.

“Especially when you’re at Target and one children’s book is $20. It gets overwhelming when you have a classroom that you really want to be literacy enriched and you can’t provide that because you can’t afford to," said Melissa Damiani, a student teacher from Widener University. "So, to be able to come here and look for books and be able to buy them for five or 10-cents each is completely and truly amazing. And we’re so grateful for that.” 

“We put so much out already in supplies ... and we try to help them as much as we can," said Hoile. "So, it definitely helps build up an even better classroom library.” 

BookSmiles is helping to provide a better classroom library that will in turn help students for years to come.

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