Hats off to First Book for their amazing “The Stories for All Project” and to winning publishers Lee and Low Books and HarperCollins!

Friday, March 15th, 2013

the stories for all project

First Book is a non profit organization located in the USA and Canada whose mission is to provide  new books to children in need. Founded in 1992 by First Book President Kyle Zimmer and two friends, First Book addresses one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. An innovative leader in social enterprise, First Book has distributed more than 100 million free and low cost books in thousands of communities in North America.

Turning kids into strong readers is, as First Book says, “the critical step to succeeding in school and in life. But all too often the children we work with have books with characters and stories that aren’t relevant to their lives. And that makes it harder to turn them on to reading.* So today we are announcing an extraordinary step toward remedying this problem: The Stories for All Project.

Here’s the press release:

The Stories for All Project

We are not the first people to complain and worry about this issue. So we knew if we were actually going to make a difference we needed a market-driven solution. In short, we needed to put our money where our mouth is.

We reached out to the publishing industry with the offer to purchase $500,000 worth of books featuring voices that are rarely represented in children’s literature: minorities, characters of color, and others whose experiences resonate with the children we serve. The response was overwhelming. In fact, we received so many great proposals that we decided to double our commitment, purchasing $500,000 worth of new titles from both HarperCollins and Lee & Low Books — $1 million worth of books altogether. We’ll be able to offer hundreds of thousands of new books to the kids we serve.

With these major purchases, First Book is continuing to harness market forces to create social change; by aggregating the untapped demand for books and resources in thousands of low-income communities, we’re helping to create a new market for the publishing industry. When that happens, they respond by publishing more titles with more relevant content. Everyone really does win, and that’s how you make real, systemic change both possible and sustainable.

This is an exciting step! But it’s just the beginning. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days and weeks about The Stories for All Project.

Join us! If you work with children from low-income neighborhoods, or know someone who does, sign up with First Book today. We have books for you too.

* In a recent survey of more than 2,000 educators from First Book schools and programs, 90 percent of respondents agreed that the children in their programs would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories and images that reflect their lives and their neighborhoods

Must read literacy articles in the The New York Times.

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Two must read articles recently published in the The New York Times: For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing and Books to Match Diverse Young Readers. “Introductory chapter books aimed at second, third and fourth grade readers overwhelmingly reflect a suburban milieu with white protagonists.  Students of other races and ethnicities seldom encounter characters like themselves in books, and some education experts say that can be an obstacle to literacy.” Read what teachers, students, parents and literacy advocates have to say about this and then use The New York Times interactive page to click on book titles that feature main characters who are black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native and read the beginning of each book.