Overcoming Illiteracy

Here’s the story:

Learning to read is critical to a child’s success – both in school and in life. Literacy is one of the best predictors of a child’s future success. But a child without access to books won’t have the chance to become an engaged and capable reader.

This is the reality for children who are growing up in poverty; books are scarce. In some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the country there is only one book available for every 300 children.

Illiteracy in North America

Children and adults who are illiterate or have low literacy skills have poor educational, employment and health outlooks. Many of them will not graduate from high school, will earn barely enough to stay above poverty levels, and will be more likely to engage in criminal and anti-social behaviors. Over the course of their lifetimes, they will cost the United States more than a quarter of a million dollars each. View stats on Illiteracy in North America.

The social problems of illiteracy affect every one of us, but these are problems we can solve. First Book provides a resource essential to overcoming illiteracy, one that is missing for children from low-income families: access to an ongoing and diverse supply of high-quality books.

As new digital technologies continue to change the way we read, First Book is determined to ensure that children in need do not miss out. First Book is taking big steps to see that the children we serve have access to rich content in all its forms.

Together we can end illiteracy and give all children the chance to become successful readers for life. It all starts with their first book.

Our approach

At First Book, our innovative approaches tackle the single biggest barrier to the development of literacy – access to books.

To date, First Book has provided more than 100 million books to children in need, increasing access to needed materials for educators and administrators, and helping to elevate educational opportunities for our nation’s most disadvantaged youth.

But that’s just the beginning – our successes, while impressive, have only reached a small fraction of the population in need in the United States. We have more work to do, more audiences to reach, more educators and administrators to empower, and ultimately more children who need books and quality educational opportunities – and we cannot do it alone.

We don’t want to fight illiteracy – we want to end it. By working together, we can and will create a generation of lifelong readers and achievers.

How you can help:

  • Donate Now – Help fund the purchase of new books for children in need. Just $10 provides four new books.
  • Fundraise – Start a fundraising effort to bring books to kids in your community.
  • Volunteer – Join or start a First Book Advisory Board in your community and help fund books and provide grants for new books to eligible Recipient Groups.
  • Partner with First Book – Learn how corporate, nonprofit and publishing partners have teamed up with First Book to end illiteracy, and how your organization can join the effort.