18 Jul IMPACT: a teacher pays his love of reading forward
Late last year, Tim Belmont reached out to say that he had decided to do a fundraiser to support Bridge of Books by selling t-shirts through his website, “Why We Read.” Of course, we were thrilled and used the funds raised to purchase some very cool Middle and High School age books that are long gone from our facility into the hands and homes of kids who need them! Below, Tim shares the IMPACT of books on his life – as a kid, as an adult and as a teacher – and how our mission has changed his understanding of New Jersey. Thank you for your contribution!
Being a resident of New Jersey my whole life, I have had the privilege of being exposed to many facets of our state. Although I am only 28 years old, I have lived in Jefferson, South Orange, Verona, Surf City, West Orange, Jersey City, and East Rutherford. My perspective on life is by no means complete, but I am lucky to have experienced variety in my surroundings as I have grown up.
When I was younger, my parents would always provide my siblings and me with books. Whether it was The Poky Little Puppy or the Animorphs series, we were encouraged to explore different genres and form a bond with the written word. In elementary school, I became obsessed with Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, fortifying my love of literature and eventually inspiring me to become an English teacher. In fact, I have a Redwall character tattooed on my arm as a reminder of where my love of reading stemmed from.
As an English teacher at Lyndhurst High School, I have seen the positive impact that books can bring to young people, particularly those who do not have easy access to them. Books can bring a widened perspective of the world that may not otherwise be accessible and provide a positive outlet for creativity. In a more general sense, books allow children to develop imperative reading and writing skills. Teaching mostly freshmen, I get to witness the growth that students experience when having consistent access to books; there is development of technical skills, but a sense of empathy and perspective is also formed. Despite being an adult, my relationship with books is still developing. I started my website “Why We Read” to challenge myself to analyze books and share perspectives for other educators to consider. The lessons on the site are meant to intrigue students and have them realize how books can be transformative.
For many people in New Jersey, the fact that there are children in their state who do not have access to these invaluable resources goes unnoticed. The positive attributes of our diverse state get praised while these unfortunate side-effects are ignored. This is why the Bridge of Books Foundation is so important. Not only does this group put books directly into the hands of the children who need them, but they are also illuminating an immensely important issue in our state: there are children who do not have resources that many of us take for granted. Every kind endeavor that this organization undertakes shows that, steadily, the literacy gap can be reduced.
The Bridge of Books Foundation has helped widen the scope of my understanding of New Jersey, and they have impacted many others in this way. Books are a simple resource that every child deserves access to. I was fortunate to have these tools as I grew up, and now I can help get them into the hands of others. Through the acts of charity and kindness that the Bridge of Books Foundation model, whether a single book donation or the contribution of a full library, a truly positive impact can be made to New Jersey.