Where did all of the books from the former St. Gabriel School's books go?

Ask Gustavo Rivera, who provided them as part of a back-to-school giveaway


It’s fine to see a dusty book on the shelf, but seeing books in the trash is a different story.

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera said books need to be in the hands of someone who uses them, and that’s why he agreed to take in more than 3,000 of St. Gabriel School’s books. In fact, he distributed them at his back-to-school event on Thursday, Aug. 31, where thousands of school supplies were laid upon tables.

“I’m very thankful to them,” Rivera said. “The school librarian said we’re not throwing them out — they can be used.”

In fact, before meeting the state senator and picking up a colorful book bag, kids — alongside their parents — chose books from another table. One girl wanted one about a life about sea turtles rather than the horror novel “Goosebumps.”

Throughout the Ben Abrams Playground, some were reading while walking past vendors, and some had already put them in their new book bags while waiting in line for a free teeth screening. Because why not?

“We were a little bit skeptical,” he said. “Like, are they going to move? And they’ve absolutely been moving on, and there are some really good ones.”

He described a book from Mexico that was so large that it looked like a coffee table book. “It had beautiful pictures, Mexico folklore, dancing and food.”

Xavier Jimenez took “Leon and the Spitting Image” because his mother, Maria, said they have much in common. Both are in “the fourth grade, like magic, and both are goofy.”

Maria did not know the books came from St. Gabriel, the school founded in 1941 that graduated its last class this summer before merging with nearby St. Margaret of Cortona. Along with 12 other archdiocese schools, while merging four into two because of shifting demographics and lower enrollment, the Archdiocese of New York said.

However, she was surprised at how many different types of genres there were and was happy that she could be one of the few to pick one up.

As The Riverdale Press was skimming through the books, almost all of them on the tables, were from the school. Some still had the punch-out card for borrowers. And they were in great condition.

More than 10 boxes were labeled “mystery” and “adventure” behind a table filled with volunteers helping the senator distribute them.

Scholastic Book Fairs are naturally fun for kids while at school. The shelves are stocked with any genre. New releases for kindergarten-level readers include Marvel, Rocket, and Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And the classics, “Goosebumps,” “Captain Underpants,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

The Scholastic Book Fair will pop up in 85,000 schools, including 40,000 Title I schools, meaning they serve a high proportion of students from low-income households.

The senator began to remember Puerto Rico when he was in school.

“I remember the Scholastic Book Club, where you had a catalog,” he said. “I was so excited every year I saw it. I was like, Oh, I got $10 that I’ve been able to put together.

Back to school fair

One staffer from the senator’s office is responsible for tracking down different organizations they want to sponsor. For example, the Unity Community Health Center is a health center in his district.

Sonata Smith, a mother of four, admitted she had already gone back-to-school shopping and wished she had known about this fair earlier because it does, in fact, save on the essentials.

She picked up folders, clips, bags, and even hand sanitizers.

“Bags are expensive now — if you are not catching them on sale, the promotional page is about $15,” Smith said. “And even JanSport, that can be $35 depending on where you get it from.”

The senator could not deny if he knew how much parents were saving because he hadn’t purchased a book bag in years.“But I switched to another type of bag situation.”

Valeria Munt, Rivera’s director of communications, said everyone’s situation is different — including hers — and everyone has a different definition of saving. She said she pays $36 for only one book bag.

And each fair brings different things. At Thursday’s event, kids and parents stood online for a visual and manual inspection of the mouth at the Liberty Dental table.

“The current health care system we have is so completely messed up that most insurance plans see teeth as luxury bones,” Rivera said. He also using the opportunity of the fair to get acquainted with constituents.

“This is a newer part of the district because I used to cover a little chunk here, but now I cover a lot more,” he said.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera, St. Gabriel School, books, back to school, Ben Abrams Playground