SEPTEMBER 2019 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 27
BOOK FAIRIES TURNING THE PAGE BY ROB PELAEZ
Amy Zaslansky held a book
drive to donate paperbacks to a
Hempstead schoolteacher’s class
in 2012. The overwhelming response
she received inspired what
she called an “‘Aha!’ moment.”
The mother of three from Bellmore
then founded Book Fairies, a Freeport
based nonprofit that collects
reading materials for those in need.
What started as one person driving
around in a van across Long Island to
collect donations has now turned into
a mission to fight illiteracy throughout
the New York Metro area.
“There is a cycle of poverty that stems
from illiteracy.” says Zaslansky, noting
that 70 percent of prison inmates
can’t read above a third-grade level
and 90 percent of welfare recipients
are high school dropouts. “We want
to break that cycle and have
students be achieving to
the best of their ability academically.
are so intensely startling
Zaslansky, the group’s executive
that Book Fairies has donated
nearly 2 million books to
libraries, schools, community
hospitals and elsewhere.
She and her team of charitable
Book Fairies volunteers help sort donations at the
nonprofit's Freeport headquarters.
teens with developmental
disabilities sort the donations. But
Zaslansky and her team understand
that receiving the donated books is
only part of the equation.
“One of our main goals is to have
people know which books to donate,”
she says. “We don’t mean to seem
picky, but we know that the best
books are those with high interest
level to make children actually want
to read more and be a stepping stone
in their education”.
Though their popularity
may be diminishing with
the uproar in technological
advances over the past 15
years, books are far more
vital than many people realize.
While a healthy supply
of books for a school
or residency doesn’t seem
like a luxury, the cost of
new books for elementary
schools with low funding
makes a severe impact.
“What people don’t understand,”
“is that the cost of a new
book is quite expensive. Filling up
shelves of them for different grades
is extremely tough for schools whose
budget does not incorporate the necessary
funds for education.”
To learn more, visit thebookfairies.org
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