By Kyle Zimmer,
President and CEO, First Book
Libraries and museums have always been important centers of our communities, but their role is even more critical today. As we saw in Ferguson, and as we see in inner cities, rural communities and suburban areas around the country, our libraries and museums have become a town square that unifies and heals a community. These institutions have expanded beyond their traditional roles to provide quality community programs supporting everything from early learning to job retraining to continuing education. Heroic libraries and museums are shouldering these community needs in the face of shrinking or already stretched budgets.
That’s why I’m thrilled that First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise that I lead, is providing assistance to support museums and libraries that serve children from low-income families. First Book provides free and low-cost brand new books and educational resources for kids in need from birth through age 18. The books can be used to add to a library or museum's collection, to support literacy tutors, to augment cultural programming, to give to children to take home and keep – or for any other activity that helps libraries and museums connect with families in need and gets children excited to read. Anyone working with kids in need can sign up here, for access to books through:
The First Book National Book Bank: The nation’s only clearinghouse for large-scale book donations from publishers. These brand-new books are available free of charge (plus a shipping & handling fee), in carton quantities, and are perfect for educators or program leaders who want to help children start home libraries of their own.
The First Book Marketplace, which offers over 5,000 popular and award-winning titles at unprecedented prices, available exclusively to educators and programs serving kids in need. In addition to a full range of books, from Caldecott and Newbery winners, classics and popular titles, to STEM, books for reluctant readers, empowering stories for girls, books promoting peace, college prep and more, the First Book Marketplace also carries other resources requested by those working with kids in need – from nonperishable food to winter coats. The First Book Marketplace also carries a growing collection under the Stories for All Project, First Book’s industry-wide initiative to increase the diversity in children’s books.
In addition, First Book offers a Virtual Book Drive to help raise funds to bring books to your community.
First Book already works with libraries and museums all over the country. Just ask library branch manager Suzi Worthen, who used the First Book Marketplace to stock her library shelves with new books and invited the town to a reading party to celebrate. We know that programs in low income communities have unique needs compared to those in more resourced neighborhoods. If your library serves a low income community, follow Suzi’s lead by registering with First Book and adding your voice to our network. We hope you’ll tell your community partners about First Book and get your entire neighborhood connected to the ongoing free and low cost resources we have available.
All of us at First Book are grateful for the heroic and vital work of our libraries and museums. Together, we can help ensure that every child has the support and resources they need to read, learn and succeed.