The Issue: Underserved Children Lack Access to Books
Although bedtime stories are a cherished tradition in many households, there are some low-income neighborhoods where there's only 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children, according to a 2006 study cited by the International Reading Association. Exposure to books at a young age can give children a leg up later on in life: children who grow up with books in their home are more likely to go further in their education, as shown in a 2010 study reported by the Journalism Center on Children & Families.
The Campaign: Providing Books to Underserved Children
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by First Book to provide age-appropriate books for children from low-income families across the country. For every $10 raised, the organization can purchase six brand-new books at a deep discount from publishers such as Disney Publishing Worldwide, Random House Children’s Books, Macmillan, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. First Book can then distribute these books through its network of more than 50,000 schools and programs in local communities all across the country. Donors will be able to choose what region of the country their donation will be sent by selecting Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, or West when making their donation.
When she was a tutor to children from low-income families in Washington, DC, Kyle Zimmer was amazed by how excited students would get whenever given their own books. As she relayed in a 2011 New York Times story, this work inspired Zimmer to start First Book, an organization dedicated to making reading materials accessible to children in need.
Today, nearly 20 years after Zimmer's eureka moment, First Book works toward this goal through two channels: the First Book Marketplace, an online store with quality books—including Caldecott and Newbery award-winners—available at up to 90% below the retail price, and the First Book National Book Bank, a clearinghouse for publishers’ excess inventory. To date, the organization has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to 50,000 schools and programs throughout the United States and Canada—with more added each month.
The impact has been inspiring. An internal study found that 70% of children reported reading more at home after receiving books from First Book. In recognition of this and other accomplishments, the organization has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2005 Nonprofit Innovation Award and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.