For the past several months I have been a part of a Local Advisory Board for First Book. This organization is important to me not only as a youth librarian, but also as someone who very nearly became an English teacher. When you throw in the fact that I cannot remember a time when books were not an important part of my life, it is understandable that I would want to be involved with First Book.
A non-profit organization that provides access to new books for children in need throughout the United States and Canada, First Book strives to alleviate the illiteracy issue plaguing our nation’s poorest residents by partnering with organizations, classrooms, and other groups in the community. In addition to providing books, First Book raises funds to use for grants. If you work with children in an area with a high level of poverty, you may be eligible for a grant through First Book.
As school lets out children are susceptible to Summer Slide. While this is an issue for all youth, it is especially so for those in low-income areas. With little or no access to quality books or even computers, these children are at a disadvantage. Over the summer months, children in low-income households fall behind an average of 2 months in reading. Thankfully most libraries have free Summer Reading Programs that can help alleviate the educational divide, but unfortunately, many children may never step foot in a library.
This is where First Book can help. For instance, the local chapter of First Book has a program called Food for the Brain Campaign in which they visit a number of community meals and nutrition sites and give new, free books to the children attending, providing those from low-income households with reading materials. By going to where the children are and giving them books First Book helps to fight Summer Slide.
Want to help support First Book? Local Advisory Boards are made up of people from all walks of life - teachers, librarians, business owners, retirees, parents, grandparents... anyone can volunteer. They can use donations of funds or of time, whether ongoing or only once. Check out their website to search for a Local Advisory Board near you.