The Story Behind The Start
Founder Larry Abrams has been an intense reader since he was three. His family had lots of books, newspapers, and magazines around the house. When he got older, he raided used bookstores, finding value in books loved by others.
The idea for BookSmiles struck him several years ago after he asked one of his seniors what she was reading to her 2-year old. She smiled at him and said that her girl was too little to understand, going on to say, "Reading to children just isn't part of my culture."
At the time, Larry had no books ready to give to her, but he could tell her about the urgency to read to her daughter. Not long after, he put out a call to friends and on social media for gently used children's books and a few thousand came in!
Larry stored thousands of books in his classroom, garage, and synagogue's copy room before opening the first BookSmiles Book Bank Cherry Hill in August 2019. The pandemic accelarated growth.
In September 2022, the Book Bank moved to its current 4,300 sq. ft. location in Pennsauken where it will soon be possible to process and distribute 1,000,000 used children's books each year!