Powerful Partnerships Provide Books & More For Florida Kids

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Like many First Book stories, this one begins with a successful partnership. A partnership that, for many years, has helped First Book raise the bar for kids in need with new, quality books both at school and at home.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and First Book have the shared goal of expanding access to educational resources for children, now and in the future. This longtime partnership strengthens the impact of the many school events and book distributions that we plan and organize together every year.

When First Book needs the support of local, community educators to help deliver high-quality books to kids in need, it’s the members of AFT and its local affiliates – like the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) of Tampa, Florida – who answer the call.

“Our partnership with First Book and AFT is a huge benefit to our school support staff, our teachers, and the community,” says HCTA Executive Director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, “because it’s a great way to bring books into schools, and it’s also a great way to bring books into families. One of the really great things to see is when you have children come through and have the opportunity to pick books to start their home library.”

It was in this spirit of collaboration that First Book, AFT, and HCTA identified Mendenhall Elementary in Hillsborough County as a school that would benefit from an expanded bilingual library and books for each student to take home for themselves.

Thanks to AFT’s generous support, First Book’s Concierge Services team was able to select these books with Mendenhall Elementary’s needs in mind, delivering a range of titles that lives on as the school’s own “Best Of” list.

FirstBook - TAMPA-3_webThese brand new, contemporary books showcase diversity, relatable characters, and enviable writing all at once, like What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau and I Know the River Loves Me by Maya Christina Gonzalez. AFT and HCTA were joined by volunteers from First Book’s corporate partner, Wipro, who read to the school’s students and helped distribute the books they could take home.

But that was just the beginning.

Thanks to Wipro’s contributions, a truck filled with over forty thousand books was unloaded and distributed to area teachers and families over the next two days.

Two hundred volunteers from the HCTA and AFT sorted thousands of books to the hundreds of community educators and members who attended the distribution. Teachers browsed the stacks for fifty free books for their classrooms. Kids eagerly flipped through pages and added books to their own pile, which—they’d gladly tell you—was going to one of the most treasured places for any young reader: “my library!”

If you serve children in low-income communities and need a large quantity of books or resources at the best possible price, reach out to First Book’s Concierge Services at concierge@firstbook.org or call the Member Services Team at 866.732.3669 and ask for Concierge Services.