Bridge of Books distributes books to kids in need across New Jersey. Bridge of Books partners with schools and community organizations to help get as many books as possible into the hands of children. Abigail’s work improves reading skills and shows kids the joy and power of reading. Learn more about their incredible programs here!
How did you get the idea to start Bridge of Books?
This year is our 20th anniversary. A woman in California started Bridge of Books, and I got involved by starting the New Jersey chapter when I became a new mom and was looking for something to keep my mind stimulated. A couple years in, the original founder decided to shut it down, so I took over and reincorporated the organization in New Jersey. Since then, we’ve given away 1.3 million books to kids from newborn to 18 years old in all 21 counties in New Jersey. Bridge of Books went from something I would do between feedings and playdates to a true passion. It’s amazing that we can encourage a love of reading, improve literacy rates, and help kids succeed.
Where do your books come from, and where are they going?
Our books come from donors, book drives, and book collections. We also purchase books that we are lacking, which are mostly books by diverse authors on diverse subjects and bilingual books. Our goal is to get books in the hands and homes of children. We do school distributions, visit community resource fairs, and work with prison systems and community health departments. We don’t want a child to feel like a second class citizen when choosing a book, and we go through books sorted by age group to find the perfect fit. Teachers are so underpaid and many of them spend their own time and money to build classroom libraries, so we also donate books to teachers in low income districts.
How can individuals best support your work?
We have families who have the finances and resources to take their kids to bookstores and libraries, and there are some families who don’t have transportation to libraries and can’t afford books from the store. Our work is all about bridging the gap between them. We constantly need books, because kids are always needing new books whenever they finish one. Financial donations help us get more kids the books that they need. We have an Amazon Wishlist where people can directly purchase a book that will make a difference in the life of a child. If you have children’s books that are in good condition, you can ship them to us.
What is the best part of your job?
This has been my passion project for the past 20 years, I absolutely love the unique nature of what we do. We’re really able to listen and accommodate each request by assessing the needs of communities and acting accordingly. I’ve worked with a high school teacher who had many students reading at a 2nd grade level and needed appropriate books for them. I've worked with FEMA to distribute books after Hurricane Sandy, and I’ve handed out books to kids at visitation centers who were in placement. This work sparks joy in kids, especially since books are oftentimes the only place where they feel truly seen.