Spotlight on Literacy Organizations: First Book

Today, I am honored to have Kyle Zimmer, co-founder of First Book, guest post.  Since 1992, First Book has distributed over 80 million brand new books to children who might not have the opportunity to own their own books.  Please read how First Book got started and how you can help get books in the hands of children!

More than twenty years ago I was working as a lawyer, and I volunteered as a reading tutor at a soup kitchen in Washington D.C.  The kids I met there were bright and eager to learn, but they faced a huge obstacle – they had no books of their own.

Learning to read is critical to a child’s success in school and throughout life. As Carol Rasco and our friends at RIF know, reading is indeed fundamental.  Over the years, study after study has shown that the number of books in the home directly predicts reading achievement. And while many kids from middle- and upper-class homes have personal libraries, their counterparts from low-income communities – the children I met in that soup kitchen all those years ago and millions more across the country have no books at all.

That’s why two friends and I started First Book – a nonprofit organization dedicated to making sure that children from low-income communities have access to a steady, ongoing supply of new, high-quality books.

First Book works directly with programs that serve these children – Title I schools, after-school reading programs, Head Start programs, shelters, food banks and literacy organizations of all kinds – to make sure that they have what they need: access to new books and educational materials. First Book’s resources are helping these heroic educators elevate and enrich the learning experience for the children they serve.

The level of quality is important.  First Book strives to provide excellent books – including Newbery and Caldecott winners and classics of children’s literature.  Kids need access to a rich diet of books and reading material if they are to become lifelong readers.

Since 1992, First Book has distributed over 80 million brand-new books – for free or at deeply-discounted prices – to millions of children across the United States and Canada.  Educators and program leaders tell us how the books we provide have increased the success of their reading programs, and their children are more enthusiastic readers. However, as delighted as we are with our progress, we know there is much more work to be done. The need is enormous – and with even more children growing up in poverty today, we need to reach every child in every classroom and every program to make a difference.  We can’t do this alone.  We need your help.

How you can get involved

Donate: Every $2 donated to First Book provides a brand-new book for a child in need. You can donate online, or contact us at 866-READ-NOW.

Registration: We are eager to expand our network so more schools and programs can access our books and resources.   If you know of programs that serve children in need,  encourage them to register with First Book. Once they do, they’ll be eligible to purchase brand-new books at deep discounts on the First Book Marketplace. They’ll also be updated about free books and other special opportunities.

Online: If you want to stay updated about First Book, visit our website at You can also follow us on our blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.


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One Response to “Spotlight on Literacy Organizations: First Book”

  1. Tweets that mention Spotlight on Literacy Organizations: First Book « Literacy Toolbox -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fran Simon and ReadingIsFundamental, Dawn Little. Dawn Little said: Spotlight on Literacy Organizations: @First Book : #literacy #kidlit […]

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