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, then passed along to find their way to his shelves.
The idea for BookSmiles struck him a few 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 on social media for gently used children's books, a few thousand came in, and BookSmiles was born.
Be Part Of The Story
Unfortunately, too many children in South Jersey have few or no books within arm's reach.
A high school English teacher, Larry can identify which of his ninth grade students in Lindenwold grew up with books, or had someone read to them when they were little.
These students write well, generally earn A's and B's, and have advanced reading skills that tell him that books and reading were part of their lives before kindergarten. Inversely, struggling students admit that they had no children's books when they were small.
We now have the books! We're proud to say that since we started in September 2017, BookSmiles has collected, sorted, and distributed 350,000 books!