Essex County College has partnered with the non-profit organization First Book to distribute this month 10,000 high-quality reading books to area schools and non-profit organizations that work with low-income children. The soft and hard cover books are appropriate for children from pre-school through grade 12.
The College is set to distribute the books to schools and other agencies on October 17, said Sybil Bost-Wormley, First Book Project Coordinator at Essex. Ms. Bost-Wormley said the books are tentatively earmarked for area public schools, libraries, non-profit organizations, daycare centers, pediatric offices and hospitals with children’s wards.
“This is another way our College is encouraging literacy and reaching out to the community, especially to those who do not always have access to books,” said Essex County College President Dr. Gale E. Gibson. The College’s involvement with First Book was spearheaded by Dr. Gibson.
“The more books that can make their way into the hands of more children is always a good thing,” said Ms. Bost-Wormley. “This is one way of helping children develop a life-long love of reading.”
Essex County, under the leadership of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., is providing a truck and manpower to pick up the books from the distribution center at the New Jersey Food Bank in Hillside to the College’s Newark campus.
“We are pleased that the county is able to assist with this great program. Getting books into the hands of children who otherwise may not be able to purchase them is a wonderful opportunity to promote literacy and expand the horizons of our children,” DiVincenzo said.
Since 1992, First Book has been acquiring books from publishers for a small fee and distributes them into largely low-income communities. An estimated 130 million books and other educational resources have been distributed under the program. Prior to that, publishers frequently just disposed of those books.
This is the third year First Book has been working with community colleges in New Jersey and the first for Essex County College. Also involved in the endeavor is the African American Chamber of Commerce along with New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks.
Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10) was involved when First Book began its work in New Jersey. “Reading is fundament to learning and has the power to transform lives,” the Congressman said. “By fostering literacy, this book distribution is a tremendous opportunity to give our children a chance to succeed. I am proud to partner with First Book to bring their national book distribution to New Jersey and expand access to educational resources for our state’s young people.”
Organizations interested in receiving any of the books must register at http://www.firstbook.org/eccnj
To participate, at least 70 percent of the children served by an organization must be from low-income families.
Additional information is also available from Ms. Bost-Wormley at email@example.com.