Some local children will receive a brand new book for a birthday gift, thanks to a Bethlehem-based literacy program.

Judith's Reading Room, a non-profit organization, donated 1,000 books to the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley for use in its Women, Infants and Children program.

The center serves about 2,500 low income individuals each month whose children are not usually enrolled in daycare or pre-K programs. As a result, these children start kindergarten without the reading skills and confidence necessary to succeed in school, according to Judith's Reading Room officials.

Every child enrolled in the WIC program will get a new book on their first birthday.

“This beautiful donation couldn’t come at a better time,” says Lorna Velazquez, executive director of HCLV, which is located in Bethlehem.  “As funding dwindles for important initiatives such as the SPARK Early Literacy Program, our community looks for ways to incorporate books and reading into our children’s lives.” 

The collection of gently used and new books valued at $8,870 was organized by Ana Luhrs, a librarian at Lafayette College in Easton, who grew up in a family that received services from WIC.

The library, which includes an extensive collection of the popular SkippyJon Jones books, Spanish and bilingual titles, is being donated in honor of Luhrs’ parents, Nydia Theodorakis and Luis Alberto Ramirez and other hardworking families struggling to provide for their children.