Bridge of Books celebrates a ‘Ladies Night Out’

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PHOTOS BY KELLY GIULIANO

The Bridge of Books Foundation celebrated a ‘Ladies Night Out’ complete with cocktails, literary trivia and humble chit chat about the tremendous growth the organization has seen over the past 20 years.

The evening, which was held at Tommy’s Tavern in Sea Bright on March 29, symbolized a time of reflection for the charity that puts books in the hands of children.

“Tonight represents a time to get together with friends and volunteers to talk about our organization. We get to see all of the people who contribute to Bridge of Books throughout the year,” Bridge of Books board member Susan Murray said.

Between photographs and the clinking of martini glasses, ladies participated in literary games that highlighted characters from famous children’s books donated over the years.

According to Murray, the overarching mission sought out by the foundation, which is headquartered in Rumson, is to provide books for children, especially to those who are not being exposed to literature.

“Statistics show that children who have books available in their homes find success later on in life,” said Murray.

So far, the organization has donated more than 800,000 books throughout New Jersey.

Linda Wein Murray, a local librarian and the evening’s guest of honor, was individually recognized for her tireless contributions to the charity over the years.

“Linda Murray is a true book champion,” Bridge of Books founder Abby Daly said. “She is always looking to raise awareness for our brand. She is all about books for kids. She provides us with books whenever she can.”

Daly said that personally recognizing the organization’s volunteers correlates with the charity’s core values, which seeks to praise those who help them accomplish their mission.

“Our story is shaped by the support we get from the community. We believe it is important to honor, to really honor, our volunteers. Linda Murray stands out,” Daly said. “We’re hoping to get her on board as a full-time volunteer now that she is retiring. But we are going to have to compete with her love of baking.”

Daly mentioned part of the Bridge of Books mission is to place books in locations where you might not otherwise expect to find them. Most recently, the charity has partnered with local barber shops in order to get young boys reading.

“What’s so interesting is that barber shops are really pillars in the community – especially for young boys. Barbers see themselves as an extension of the family, and they will get those kids reading. In places where there is no community library, there is always a barber shop. And while a parent may not be in a position to get to a library, they are always going to get to a barber shop. That is where those kids will be exposed to books,” Daly said.

According to the National Education Association, young readers need to become well-versed at recognizing letters and sounds in order to improve their literacy skills. The more children are exposed to material, the better they will become at reading at different levels.

Daly went on to explain the entire premise of the local charity is to continuously think outside the box, so literature can find its way into children’s hands – one way or another. 

“All children should have books to call their own,” Murray said.