NJ super couple fights for literacy by giving out free books
Something we often take for granted as humans is our ability to read. For example, you’re reading this right now and the majority of you probably put no thought into the act of it. But for many children across the world, reading has not come as easily for a number of reasons.
Books and technology simply are not accessible all throughout the country despite our assumption that the entire country has adapted into this high-speed, techy society.
To Kaila Boulware Sykes and her husband, Raymond, books are smiles. The couple met while they were students at Rutgers and spent a lot of time together doing community service work. Fast forward to last year when the couple, who are Black, experienced discrimination when they visited a book store in Ocean County, New Jersey, with their son, Truth, now 2 years old.
A month later, the couple opened their own non-profit bookstore where all donations are put towards gifting books to those in need So far, their store, called Hidden Gems, has received a total of 40,000 books as donations. They receive donations from organizations and individuals, as well as some authors who donate their books.
They sell these new or lightly used books from their storefront in New Brunswick in addition to handing out free books at community events. Since the bookstore’s opening, over 15,000 books have been distributed and the couple hopes this number continues to grow. And now, Sykes is fundraising on GoFundMe to purchase and renovate an RV into their own custom mobile bookstore.
This summer, they will be traveling to Florida from NJ and plan on handing out 1,000 free books to anyone they see fit. Their goal is to spread literacy, love and smiles across the globe and give every person they come across the opportunity to engage in reading and literature. Reading is such an important life skill that we often overlook, but this couple has made it their mission not to forget.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.
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