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Spotlight Non-profit: Giving every low-income child a chance to own their First Book

LatinaLista– “Eighty percent of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for the children they serve. Millions of children spend thousands of hours every week in programs and schools that are starving for resources necessary to improve educational quality.”


This was the sad discovery, Kyle Zimmer, a corporate lawyer made one night about twenty years ago while tutoring children at an inner-city soup kitchen. Knowing how special it can make a child feel to own their first book, Kyle decided to do something — she founded First Book.

First Book provides new books to kids in need. So far, First Book has delivered more than 65 million books to programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada.

There are three ways First Book reaches kids in need:


Need Free Books? The First Book National Book Bank distributes free books to programs that serve at least 80% children from low-income families.

Want Low-cost, High-quality Books? The First Book Marketplace is an online store selling books and educational materials discounted up 50 – 90% off retail prices to programs that serve at least 50% children from low-income families.

Interested in Grants for Books? First Book Advisory Boards make community level grants enabling programs that serve at least 80% children from low-income families to receive free books.

Organizations must register with First Book to apply and receive help and be notified when free books become available through the First Book National Book Bank and when new titles are available on the First Book Marketplace.

While First Book accepts monetary donations to buy new books, they don’t accept used or new books from individuals. They only work with publishers who donate on a large-scale basis.

A child receiving a new book can be a life-changing moment for that child. According to First Book, more than half of the children — 55% — reported having an increased interest in reading after receiving their First Book. Additionally, the number of young people demonstrating a “high interest in reading” nearly tripled (increasing from 23% to 61%) after receiving books from First Book.

But reading isn’t the only impact First Book has on these children.

Kelso Indian Education: “I had a boy whom I tutor who almost never talked and never said how he felt. Then he read a book we got through First Book, Sometimes I Feel Like A Mouse. Suddenly he began to talk, and to talk about how he felt.”



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