This past Thursday Kyle Zimmer, co-founder of First Book, was honored at the 2009 Carle Honors for her dedication to getting books into the hands of some tens of thousands of children. But even before that happened I got an email from author Erica Perl telling me about how wonderful First Book was. She was so persuasive that I asked if I could reprint the info here. She said yup. Here’s what went down:
First Book is an award-winning nonprofit focusing on providing free and low-cost new books to low income kids. We’ve been around since 1992 and we have provided more than 65 million (yup, not a typo) books.
We work with existing literacy programs and providers, including Title One schools, YMCA’s, libraries, soup kitchens, RIF, ROR, you name it. If your school/program/classroom/library teaches or provides books to low income kids, you can become a First Book registered group and get books from us, just like that, through a variety of our programs.
Our registered groups can get free brand new books through our First Book National Book Bank distributions. They can also purchase dramatically discounted brand new books through our online store, the First Book Marketplace. Most books on the Marketplace sell for about $2. We have titles for ages 0 through 18 and carry award-winning titles and excellent quality books. No movie-tie-ins, etc. Registered groups can also apply for marketplace grants through local First Book Advisory Boards that raise funds (e.g. through our Books for Kids, Books for Keeps online book drive) and award them to local literacy groups. We get books for the marketplace by working closely with publishers and receiving excellent discounts by bringing the buying power of all of our little literacy programs together. Publishers particularly love that this doesn’t cannibalize their existing sales… it creates new sales to programs that need great books for the kids they serve, but simply can’t afford to pay retail.
In addition, we do a lot of partnering with corporate sponsors (e.g. Cheerios Spoonful of Stories, Target’s recent partnership with Title One schools). We also work closely with our publishing partners around donations, special events and author projects. For example, we just brought the WIMPY KID ice cream truck to a registered group and Abrams provided books as well as ice cream for all the kids, and we’re working with Candlewick to try to bring Kate DiCamillo’s upcoming Magician’s Elephant webcast – as well as books – to several of our registered groups… right now, we’re also awarding read-alouds by authors including Doreen Cronin, Judi Barrett and Jon Scieszka to registered groups through our Double Your Impact sweepstakes through our Marketplace.
And that’s just a fraction of the cool stuff we do here at First Book! Thanks for anything you can do to help us get the word out to teachers and librarians who work with or do outreach to low income kids… we have over 20,000 registered groups, but there are something like 250,000 potential registered groups out there… and so many kids without books!