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Back-to-school time is such an active time, especially for all of our eager readers out there. We were lucky enough to greet students Pre-K through 5th grade at Forest Hills Elementary School yesterday. Witnessing kids, parents and caregivers, and teachers and administrators alike happy and excited to start the new school year brought a great deal of joy to my heart.

I had the opportunity to pick up my own 11-year-old student and granddaughter Kayci from her first day of middle school. The moment she jumped in my car, she exclaimed, “Middle school is sooooo much better than elementary school. I can’t wait for tomorrow.” I’d say that’s not a bad way to top off the day.

Kayci, by the way, is the artist behind the “Free Books” portion of our new logo. She loves books and that I give them away. “You’re kind of famous, pop pop,” she says. I don’t correct her.

And just as we were here to start off the year on the right page, we’ll be back on their last day, handing out books as they leave to embark on their summer adventures. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait that long to see them or get books in their hands. We’re planning to install a Book Ark at the entrance of Forest Hill Elementary School this year (and hope to do the same for every middle and elementary school in Camden soon).

We’re also opening The Free Books Place for class visits by appointment on Tuesdays, as conversations continue to buzz between us and the school district to lock in dates. We’re hoping each school in the district can schedule an hour or two one Tuesday a month to visit The Free Books Place, like a mini field trip. The teachers and students can take home as many books as they want, every time, for themselves or their families. facilitate the students’ visit

We’re hoping each school can schedule an hour or two one Tuesday a month for the kids to come in with their teachers and choose and keep as many books as they want. Not just for them, but for their families. Around the holidays, it might even be nice to encourage they pick out books as gifts for a few loved ones (since children are notoriously ill-equipped to execute solo, secret shopping trips).

You can help us by spreading the word! Tell schools, after-school programs, and day cares that we’ll be open by appointment on Tuesdays. Please email me at to schedule.

Written by: Tom Martin, Executive Director
Edited by: Breanna Ransome, MA


Whether you have Spanish books to donate or would like to make a monetary donation so we can purchase some for our inventory, you would be making a huge impact for our cause. It is silly for us to have so many Book Arks in Cramer Hill and East Camden and not have enough Spanish books to stock them for the members of the community. Thank you!

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