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My Very Own Library to Distribute 240,000 Books to Newark Public School Students in March

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The program is a joint effort of the United Way, Scholastic, and the University of Chicago.

The program is called My Very Own Library, started 10 years ago by former Newark Mayor Cory Booker and run by the University of Chicago. The idea of course, to get kids to read.

This month, to mark that anniversary, 240,000 books will be distributed in Newark public schools by the United Way and the publisher Scholastic.

Catherine Wilson is head of the United Way of Greater Newark.

“When we’re not in a pandemic,” she said, “the students actually get to choose the books themselves at book fairs but now everybody’s at home, they were preselected by Scholastic, so students can stop by their school, get a bag of books that have been chosen for their age group and grade level.”

She said the books come from a variety of sources.

“These are books that are both published by Scholastic and books that aren’t published by Scholastic,” she said, “but that they’re offering to schools, so we pay I believe its $1.5 million a year to Scholastic for the books.”

The money comes from a grant from the University of Chicago.

Wilson said kids are starting to need a lot of shelf space.

“There are students that have been doing this 10 years, so they get 10 free books every year, so by the time they’re done with 8th grade they’ve got over 100 books,” she said.