For years, school counselor and South Orange resident Carol Lukoff has been . But she will not rest until she can put a new book into the hands of every child in need in Orange, NJ — and yet another book and another after that first book is read.
Lukoff is looking for your help in collecting those books — gently used children's books of recent vintage, ranging from baby books through middle school, that will be given out free through the Children's Book Pantry of Orange.
The pantry, previously housed at the YWCA in Orange, is re-opening in the Orange Public Library this month.
Books can be dropped off at the following locations:
- Orange Public Library (Children's Book Pantry), 348 Main St Orange
- 321 North Wyoming Ave (unit 2D), South Orange
Or you can email Lukoff to arrange a pick-up from your home (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here is Lukoff's plea:
For several years I have been collecting gently used children’s books and distributing them free to children in Orange, where I work in the schools (as a school counselor).
Orange is an “urban” town with a minority and immigrant population, and where there are no bookstores in town or even nearby. Many of my students live in families without cars, and getting to a far away mall that has a bookstore just doesn’t happen. And since most of my families are making close to the minimum wage, purchasing children’s books just isn’t possible. As a result, school children in Orange have no personal libraries, and consequently their reading levels are quite low.
I am personally convinced that children need a library at home in order to become fluent readers. Reading only during school hours, our children never get exposed to the exciting world of children’s literature—which is how middle and upper middle class children synthesize what they learn in school with great books at home—and become fluent readers. This is why so many children in Orange remain struggling readers, and never become fluent—and this limits them all their lives.
The books my school children in Orange need if they are ever to achieve literacy are collecting dust on shelves in many of our homes. Get your kids involved in doing a service project, holding a used book drive in their schools, or neighborhoods, clearing their own shelves of their “outgrown” children’s books and sharing them with book starved children in nearby Orange. Your children can directly help needy children become more literate and really change lives in the process.
I collect baby through middle school level books, and books are distributed through the Children’s Book Pantry of Orange (located within the Orange Public Library), directly to children in their public schools, and at community events in Orange. All books are distributed free. Besides books, magazines (if they are in good shape) also make great donations. I recently saved enough Highlights, American Girl, Boys Life, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Nickelodeon Magazines, gaming magazines, etc, to give one to every student at Cleveland Elementary School in Orange. You should have seen the excitement! These kids had never held, seen or read any of these magazines, and they were so happy to own one. If I could do that every week, I know we could raise our reading scores…
There are few service projects where children could have so much impact on another child.
Literacy changes lives! You and your children can help!