BookSmiles is a coalition of teachers, families and book-donors determined to give underserved children a chance to build personal libraries. The organization offers parents, teachers and educational support professionals the support to gather tens of thousands of gently used books so that all children can grow up in homes filled with stuffed bookshelves.

Larry Abrams, an NJEA member and English teacher at Lindenwold High School, is the founder of BookSmiles. He notes the economic disparity in book ownership. In middle class and affluent districts, most children grow up owning dozens or hundreds of book, but children living near or below the poverty line have none or very few. Many families in Lindenwold lack the means to give their children very many books.

Since September 2016, BookSmiles has collected over 16,000 books from generous families, houses of worship, scouting troops, Barnes and Noble, and young people pursuing service projects. High school students and volunteers have sorted the books and put nearly all of them into the hands of parents and children.

Children most often select books through pop-up book fairs, where they can go “shopping” as they do at Scholastic book fairs. BookSmiles’ quality books are always free.

To contact Abrams, to donate books, or to learn how to start your own chapter of BookSmiles, visit booksmiles.org.

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