First Book Donates Over 100 Million Books to Kids in Need
First Book, a nonprofit that provides new, high-quality books to children from low-income families, distributed its 100 millionth brand-new book today at Martha's Table, a community center in Washington D.C.
The organization began in 1992 when Kyle Zimmer, then a corporate lawyer volunteering at Martha's Table, realized that the children she was working with had no books of their own at home. She founded First Book, along with two friends, to ensure that those children, and others, would have access to the books they needed. Twenty years later, First Book has provided 100 million books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children in need across the country.
"First Book was born twenty years ago, right here at Martha's Table," said Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. "To be standing in this wonderful place – still going strong – and thinking about how many lives we've transformed through books is an incredible and humbling experience."
At the event, Zimmer handed the actual 100 millionth book – 'Green Eggs & Ham', by Dr. Seuss - to Chase-Kennedy Williams, age 4. Thirty of Chase-Kennedy's classmates also received their own copies of 'Green Eggs and Ham', as well as another popular title, 'Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type' by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.
To choose the 100 millionth title, First Book held an online vote, in which members of the public chose from 10 of the all-time most popular titles on the First Book Marketplace, a website where teachers and program leaders serving children from low-income families can purchase quality children's books at 50 to 90 percent off retail prices. The contest received more than 12,0 00 votes, with 'Green Eggs & Ham' as the clear favorite.
First Book also donated several collections of the top 10 titles to Martha's Table, as well as a grant for 100 additional new book of their choice.
"Who could have imagined 20 years ago that that first book presented to a child here at Martha's Table would be followed by some 100 million more first books?" said Michael Bartscherer, president and CEO of Martha's Table. "Which of those children might now be reading to their own children? How many are now finding joy in a good book or satisfaction in a good job thanks to this wonderful introduction to the world of reading. It is only through collaborations such as ours with First Book that we can provide the full spectrum of educational opportunities to the children and families in our programs."
Anyone who works with kids in need is eligible to get books from First Book. In addition to the First Book Marketplace, where over 3,000 titles are available at low cost, First Book also regularly distributes brand-new books and resources donated by publishers, free of charge to schools and programs in the First Book network.
"We work with more than 40,000 schools and programs around the country and in Canada, but we know there are millions more eligible programs, and children who are growing up without books in their lives," said Zimmer. "While we are happy to celebrate this milestone of distributing our 100 millionth book, we are eager to connect more children, schools and programs with an ongoing supply of books, from birth through age 18. We hope this milestone helps more programs become aware of the resources that are available to help children become lifelong readers and open up a world of learning and brighter futures."