By Emily Young

PATERSON, N.J. – In an effort to combat low literacy levels due to low-income household, even before the pandemic, Paterson had a slew of community organizations working to bridge the literal divide.

The Paterson School District teamed up with the Paterson Education Fund, and the independently-owned bookstore, Bookends in Ridgewood, on Monday to provide free book bundles to students from pre-k to eighth grade.

“We took the summer reading list the schools put out and asked the librarians at the Paterson public libraries to select topics that were relevant to our kids, that were culturally relevant to our kids and that came in different languages, so our kids will be able to see themselves in these books when they read them,” said Rosie Grant, executive director of the Paterson Education Fund.

People from all over donated more than 10,000 books, as each child received a bundle with three to six books.

And in an era when kids are not only stuck at home, but stuck doing everything on their screens, it’s nice to have a little break.

“I’m bored, and I’m looking for something to go into and get out of this boredom,” said Ameer Hablawi, who’s going into the sixth grade.

A good book may be just the solution he’s looking for.

“Books are fundamental,”said Dr. Melissa Baralt, a parent. “Books are going to be the pivoting game-changer, because what’s happening is everything is virtual, and a book connects you not only to a person, but to a thing, and it connects you to your educational purpose right in your hands.”

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