By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Legal Aid Society announced on Thursday that it had started a new campaign alongside book publisher Penguin Random House called, "Let Them Read," which will bring books into courtrooms for kids to read while they wait for their cases to be called.
The program will begin in the Brooklyn Adolescent and Young Adult Diversion Court, which serves teenagers and young adults aged 16-24. The young people will have access to approximately 200 books to read in the courtroom. They are also allowed to keep the books.
“What better way to help stimulate a mind in a positive way than to provide a book,” said Hon. Craig S. Walker, Presiding Judge of the Criminal Term Youth Part, Kings County Supreme Court. “It may seem like a small and meaningless gesture to some, but if we want these young people to aspire to do better, we need to provide them with the right tools in order for them to achieve their goals. That starts right there, in the Courtroom. I only hope that this can be a model that other courtrooms might start using in the future.”
Legal Aid said it plans to expand the program to courthouses across the city, including the Queens Criminal Court. Legal Aid also said it hopes to help students forced to miss school to attend school.
“Giving someone a book is giving them the opportunity to learn something new,” said Noor Ahmad, Staff Attorney the Brooklyn Trial Office at The Legal Aid Society. “At any age, but especially during your adolescence, that knowledge has the power to change what you believe is possible not just for yourself, but also for the world to which you are connected. For our clients, this has a unique significance.”
The books already donated by Penguin Random House include “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah, “Decoded” by Jay-Z and “Fresh Off the Boat” by Eddie Huang.
“We at Penguin Random House are so pleased to support the vital work of the Legal Aid Society and this very important pilot," said Madeline McIntosh, Chief Executive Officer, Penguin Random House. "We look forward to providing Legal Aid with books for the collection at Brooklyn’s Youth Court and other libraries, and to connecting the young people they represent with books that we hope will inform, entertain and inspire.”