WASHINGTON, July 13, 2015 – First Book will join thousands of educators from across the country this week at the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) TEACH Conference, July 12-15. The biannual gathering provides inspiration and professional development opportunities for teachers, paraprofessionals, union leaders, administrators, activists, civic and community leaders.
First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise that provides books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children from low-income families, will be present to demonstrate the collective impact of its partnership with AFT and its members. At a mini-plenary session, attendees will learn about First Book’s relationships with children’s publishers and how, by joining First Book’s growing network of 180,000 educators nationwide, they can influence what books and educational resources First Book is able to make available for free and at deeply reduced prices. First Book will also host a workshop with author Maya Christina Gonzalez and professional development sessions on relevant topics, including fostering a love of reading, developing student character and increasing diversity in children’s books.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Your Voice Matters,” celebrates how educators make an impact individually and collectively, both in and outside the classroom. The theme also echoes the success of the First Book and AFT partnership.
When the two organizations first connected in 2011, just 26,000 educators were signed up with First Book. First Book’s educator community has since grown by over 500 percent to 180,000, making it the largest and fastest growing network of educators and program leaders serving kids in need in North America. More than 150 individuals sign up with First Book each day, with AFT members representing approximately 30 percent of the community. First Book and AFT have together provided over three million new books to kids in need through school and community-based events.
AFT’s grassroots reach paired with First Book’s work with publishers has enabled educators in often under-resourced public school systems to influence the availability of content most needed for the kids they serve. Surveys of AFT members signed up with First Book led the nonprofit to expand the resources it provides through its ecommerce site, the First Book Marketplace, from only books to a diverse mix of teacher support materials, including school supplies, laptops, downloadable tip-sheets for teachers and parents, educational technology and more.
“Our unique partnership with AFT is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Together we’re amplifying the voices of educators who care deeply about providing the best opportunities and resources to kids and deserve to have their voice heard,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “We’re also changing the face of children’s literature, and ensuring all kids have high-quality, engaging books and educational resources to help them read and learn.”
The collective influence of AFT’s members has also fueled First Book’s Stories for All ProjectTM, a market-driven solution to increase diverse voices and promote inclusivity in children’s books. In a survey of the educators First Book serves, 90 percent of respondents indicated that 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. Moreover, 92 percent said they would be likely or very likely to buy diverse books if they were affordable.
The aggregated purchasing power of AFT members and other educators through the First Book Marketplace demonstrates to publishers and content creators the existence of a viable and vibrant market for content that is relevant to low-income and minority students. As a result, First Book has successfully curated a best-in-class selection of 895 titles focused on diversity and inclusion, and catalyzed the publication of the first-ever bilingual edition of the iconic children’s books Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar along with the first-ever trade paperback publication of other diverse titles.
Any AFT member or TEACH attendee can add their voice to the First Book and AFT partnership by registering with First Book at www.firstbook.org/AFT. Others working in the lives of children in need can also sign up with First Book at http://www.firstbook.org/register.
About First Book
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that has distributed more than 130 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit us online or follow our latest news on Facebook and Twitter.