Congratulations to Larry Abrams, 2021 Freedom Medal Award Winner.
Presented by Commissioner Melinda Kane.
Larry Abrams, resident of Cherry Hill, is a High School English Teacher and Founder of “BookSmiles,” a program created to collect books for students and teachers with little to no access. Since the launch of the program in 2016, about 225,000 books have been distributed. Abrams is dedicated to empowering fellow educators and children through literacy and the betterment of the community.
At the age of 32, after managing a Kinkos for seven years, Abrams found his calling and obtained a teaching certificate from the College of New Jersey, where he landed a job as an English teacher at Moorestown High in 2001, one of South Jersey’s most affluent districts. Three years later, Abrams moved to Lindenwold schools, one of the poorest districts in the region, where he now teaches five English classes a day to ninth and 12th graders. While teaching in Lindenwood he was inspired by one of his seniors, the mother of a 2-year-old, to launch BookSmiles.
BookSmiles has grown into the Philadelphia region’s largest distributor of new and gently used childrens’ books. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit redistributes “book-wealth,” harvesting hundreds of thousands of books from affluent and middle class communities, sorting them, and distributing them to children living in book deserts. Nearly 1,400 teachers, social workers, and nonprofit representatives have visited the BookSmiles Book Bank located in Cherry Hill. Abram’s goal is to eventually give away one million books, and to expand to other New Jersey towns. His dream and vision of BookSmiles is for every child to grow up with access to good books and never be at a disadvantage.