A Market-Driven Answer to the Need for Diverse Books
At First Book, we want to see all children become strong readers, 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.
In a 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.
We're not the first ones to address this problem. We know that if we want actually make a difference we need a market-driven, sustainable solution.
Through The Stories for All Project, First Book is providing that solution.
- In the summer of 2014, we issued a new call to publishers: show us great books from unpublished authors telling stories from under-represented communities and we'll pledge to buy 10,000 copies of each title we select. That way publishers can take a chance on new voices and more books will be available for all children.
- In early 2014, thanks to funding from Disney, we curated a special collection of books focused on the needs of Latino children, and reached out to 10,000 new educators serving Hispanic kids (including grants to help them get books).
- In March of 2013, we purchased $1 million worth of titles featuring a diverse array of characters from a wide spectrum of authors, all of which are available to the schools and programs we serve through the First Book Marketplace.
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, publishers 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.