A child reads in a school library.

Teachers at Jewish preschools and day schools across the country are among educators who have won grants from bestselling author James Patterson to build their classroom libraries through the Patterson Partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs.

Each teacher will receive $500 to buy books for their classroom or to help students build their own library. They will also be given Scholastic “points” to help buy even more titles. More than 100,000 teachers applied for this year’s book giveaway. 

Patterson, who has donated $2.5 million for this year’s initiative, said in a statement, “whether kids are learning virtually at home or in the classroom, the importance of keeping them reading cannot be underscored enough. Reading teaches kids empathy, gives them an escape when they most need it, helps them grapple with harsh realities and perhaps, most importantly, reminds them they are not alone, even if they’re unable to see their teachers, classmates and friends in person.”

Among the schools with grant winners are Arie Crown Hebrew Day School in Skokie, Illinois; Hillel Academy of Tampa in Florida; the Hewlett East Rockaway Jewish Centre Nursery School in East Rockaway, New York; and the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, California.

Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey second-grade teacher Annie Blumenthal was one of the recipients. She split the award with the four other second-grade teachers in her school.

“When I saw this contest, I said you can never have enough books, and I decided to see if I could win,” she said. “I’m particularly excited to get more nonfiction guided reading books that you can read together in smaller groups because that’s an area that’s particularly hard to find.

“You never think you are going to win these things, and it’s just very thrilling and exciting,” Blumenthal said. “Sharing it with my colleagues is special because it’s not just me and my kids; it’s all the second-graders who will get to use it, and that’s what it’s all about — sharing.” JN

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