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Gottheimer reads to local North Jersey kindergarten class in recognition of Read Across America

Announces New Free Book Program for Jersey Schools and Libraries

TENAFLY, NJ (Bergen County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Tuesday visited Walter Stillman Elementary School to read to the first-grade class as a part of the nationwide Read Across America campaign.

Gottheimer also announced his new “Free Book Program” — a completely free program to ensure that every child across North Jersey has access to the books they need to succeed.

Gottheimer read “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins. It’s about a T-Rex in a class full of kids that teaches important lessons about empathy, getting along, and following the rules.

“We know that if our kids have access to more books, more books to take out of a library, or to read or borrow from school, they will do better. Making sure Jersey students can succeed isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a good for Jersey families issue that we can all tackle together,” Gottheimer said. “That’s why today, I’m launching a new, completely free program to ensure that every child across North Jersey has access to the books they need to succeed. My new ‘Free Books Program’ is a one-stop shop to provide books free of charge for North Jersey schools and libraries from the Library of Congress’ Surplus Books Program.”

Gottheimer’s Free Book Program

  • Offers a wide range of available books, including fiction and nonfiction novels, children’s books, textbooks, cookbooks, audio books, and more.
  • Eligible organizations can simply apply on the website with a short, basic questionnaire.
  • Qualifying organizations include educational institutions like schools, libraries, museums, and more.
  • The program and books are completely free of charge.
  • The program and more information can be found here:

Reading in New Jersey

  • In Jersey, only 67 percent of fourth grade students can read at a basic level and it’s even lower for Jersey’s historically underserved students.
  • Students who are not reading at grade level by the time they reach fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
    • This can lead to additional challenges as adults including lower lifetime earnings, higher rates of unemployment, and higher likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.
  • Even though English scores in Jersey are improving, they still aren’t at the rates we reached before the pandemic.
    • Scores in math, English, and science went up about two percentage points for each subject between 2022 and 2023, but remained well below 2019 levels. 51.3 percent met or exceeded expectations in English, compared with 57.6 percent in 2019.

Gottheimer was joined by Tenafly School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Ben-David and Walter Stillman Elementary School Principal Gayle Lander and 1st Grade Teacher Ms. Jessica Berg.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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