First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise that has distributed more than 150 million books to children in need, has partnered with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing to distribute 20,000 copies of award-winning author Jason Reynolds’ books to classrooms and programs serving low income students nationwide.
Included in the distribution are his acclaimed titles from the Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers imprint: Young Adult titles When I Was the Greatest and The Boy in the Black Suit, as well as his Middle Grade title, As Brave As You. Simon & Schuster will also donate copies of Reynolds’ newest release, Ghost, to students in need at the same time that the title debuts at retail. As part of the Simon & Schuster and First Book partnership, Reynolds will also visit students in Washington, DC schools for a reading and discussion of his journey to becoming an author. The visits will be coordinated by An Open Book Foundation, which brings literacy programs to Title I Washington, DC-area schools.
In a video message, Reynolds reflected on the impact of having his books now reach kids from low-income families with experiences similar to his own. “(When I was growing up)…the stories of kids who grew up in communities like mine weren’t being written about in many books for kids,” Reynolds said. “I just want young people to read my books and feel cared for, feel safe, feel like there’s someone else in the world who understands – or at least acknowledges – your existence.”
Reynolds’ books will be distributed to First Book’s members: the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving children in need, which recently surpassed more than 275,000 members, or 20% of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs in the U.S. serving children in low-income communities. Founded in 1992, First Book furthers educational equity by amplifying the voice of these under-resourced educators, and providing them with access to an ongoing supply of high quality, relevant books and educational resources for free or at low cost.
Insights from First Book’s network helps drive the content, formats and types of educational resources that the organization secures. For example, in a First Book survey, 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. In response, First Book launched its groundbreaking Stories for All Project, a market-driven initiative bringing thousands of diverse books featuring different cultures, ethnicities, languages, family structures, abilities and experiences to the First Book Marketplace and mainstream retail locations.
“The impact of Simon & Schuster’s very generous donation ensures that First Book can fulfill its mission to provide the highest quality new books and educational resources to kids in need,” said Kyle Zimmer, President & CEO of First Book. “Jason’s inspiring personal story, along with his powerful books, can open up the world and engage kids in reading by allowing them to see themselves in the books they read. We could not be more proud to partner with Simon & Schuster and Jason on this generous donation.”
“Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has repeatedly heard from teachers and librarians that Jason Reynolds’ books are making a profound impact on the lives of young readers. Simon & Schuster and Jason felt compelled to make his books easily accessible to students who need them the most. With First Book’s help, we are proud to be able to share Jason’s important work with even more young readers,” said Jon Anderson, President & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.