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Richmond school is gifted thousands of free books

on April 25, 2013

A program that gives away free books to school children has touched down on the West Coast, and one of Richmond’s schools was the first to host the event Wednesday night.

Through the Newark-based program, My Very Own Library, more than 2,000 books were available for all students at Making Waves, a charter middle and high school that’s made up of students who are almost all low-income and qualify for free lunch.

Every student received a certificate earlier in the day, which allowed them to choose three books from any of the hundreds of different titles available to them. Classics like Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid were in abundance on the shelves. Scholastic provided the brand new books for the event at a discounted price to the program.

Shannon Boehmer, Director of Communications for the project partner New Jersey After 3, said that by allowing the students to choose their own books, there’s a greater chance that they’ll read them.

“If they find the books that they love, then they discover the love of reading,” Boehmer said to a library packed with hundreds of parents and students.

Instilling the love of reading was promised again and again that night. The principal asked a brief question with a telling answer from the audience. What do people think of when they hear Richmond? “Gun shots,” said several people in the audience.

Rosa Delgado has two children at the school and said that the event was a break from the stresses that normally surround the community.

“People are actually interacting and having a good time and not worried about violence,” Delgado said.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin attended the event and gave the school a proclamation from the city, proclaiming April 24 as Literacy Day and honoring Making Waves for “raising generations of literate Richmond citizens.”

“Literacy really is important,” said McLaughlin after she shared a story of her mother, who only had two years of high school education, consistently reading to her as a child. “And it really is a family affair.”

Upstairs in the classrooms, the school offered 15 different literacy-centered activities, like making bookmarks and journals that the students could take home.

My Very Own Library was started by book author Anne Feeley in 2011 for Newark public schools. The program initially combined money from Feeley herself and from donations from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerburg. Feeley passed away in the fall of 2012 after a seven-year diagnosis of brain cancer. The program continues to be entirely funded by Feeley’s family.

So far, the program has given away more than 120,000 books to 20 schools in New Jersey. Making Waves is the first school outside of the state to partner in the program.


  1. Ms. Rivera on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Amongst all the participants was the visionary for this event. Mrs. Charlillo, new to Making Waves, reminded us how powerful the feel and smell of a new book is in the hands of a child. Wonderfully executed Mrs. Charlillo.

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  3. MV Parent on April 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Certainly, getting books into kids hands is a great thing. But I question Richmond Confidential’s coverage of this event, featuring Charter schools and Corporate sponsors, rather than the Mira Vista Book Exchange. At Mira Vista school more than 2,000 community donated new and used books are “gifted” to the students and their families every February. These books are absolutely free and come without obligation to purchase more books from the corporate sponsor (i.e.Scholastic). It would have been nice to see similar coverage of the Mira Vista event, which truly embodies the power of a community to support literacy and learning.

    • Rachel de Leon on April 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t aware of this other book giveaway. In the future, you can let us know about community events and share story ideas with us at

      • MV Parent on April 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

        We did send a notification to the email you listed, inviting Richmond Confidential to cover our event, and got no response. Maybe next year…

        • Rachel de Leon on May 1, 2013 at 7:46 am

          Sometimes things don’t make it all the way to reporters, or we accidentally miss it because of all the spam in that particular inbox. No excuse, but we certainly weren’t intentionally ignoring you. Sorry to hear you had that problem.

          Next year, you can try emailing a specific reporter. That’s a sure way that someone will see it. Thanks again for reading and giving us feedback.


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