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First Book Adds “Hidden Figures” to Diverse Titles Available to Educators Serving Kids in Need

Young readers’ edition of story behind real-life heroes now accessible to girls growing up in low-income communities

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2017 –  “Hidden Figures,” the New York Times bestseller and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film, is now available at an affordable price to First Book’s network of more than 300,000 educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need through First Book’s award-winning e-commerce site. The book, which follows the true story of African-American female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space, is part of First Book’s “Stories for All ProjectTM”, a market-driven initiative that features thousands of diverse books featuring different cultures, ethnicities, languages, family structures, abilities and experiences.

“‘Hidden Figures’ tells an important story – but telling that story isn’t enough; we need to make these stories available to children growing up in low-income communities and inspire a generation of girls to explore STEM and all kinds of learning,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “Including an affordable edition of ‘Hidden Figures’—an incredible story of social injustice, stunning genius and astonishing resilience—for educators serving children in need is another step toward creating a marketplace of books that represents the whole of who we are, and who we can become, without exception.”

Educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can access “Hidden Figures,” and thousands of affordable and free brand-new, high-quality books, educational resources and basic needs items through the First Book Marketplace. By working collaboratively with major children’s book publishers, First Book is able to make popular titles like “Hidden Figures” available to educators simultaneously with general market releases.

According to the Children’s Cooperative Book Center, out of more than 3,000 children’s books reviewed in 2016 only eight percent featured African-American characters; seven percent featured Asian-Pacific Americans, less than five percent featured Latin or Hispanic characters and just one percent featured Native Americans. Yet, in a First Book survey of educators serving children from low income communities, where minorities are disproportionately represented, 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. “Hidden Figures” exemplifies education researcher Rudine Sims Bishop’s principle of “windows and mirrors,” both showing children mirrors of characters who look like them, and windows onto other experiences, such as succeeding in STEM professions less populated by women and minorities.

Book ownership and a print-rich environment are leading indicators of a child’s educational success, but for the 31 million children growing up in low-income families in the U.S. alone, books are scarce. A recent study by education researcher Susan Neuman identified vast “book deserts” across the United States, where some communities have only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children. First Book works to ensure educational equity by serving the educators working with children in need across a wide range of settings, from classrooms, summer school and park and rec programs, to health clinics, homeless shelters, faith-based programs, libraries, museums, summer food sites and more.  
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About First Book 

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that has distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada, which, with more than 300,000 members, is the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving kids in need. 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. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.