First Book Prioritizes Diversity and Inclusion at Start of School Year

WASHINGTON (September 3, 2019)— First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise committed to equal access to quality education, is placing diversity, acceptance, and inclusion at the center of its back-to-school efforts, in response to educator feedback that developing empathy and respect is a priority in increasingly multicultural classrooms. To support the effort, First Book partnered with Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books to create 15,000 copies of a First Book-exclusive paperback edition of ‘All Are Welcome,’ the children’s book written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. The book features a school with kids of different ethnicities, religions, and abilities, and from different family structures playing side-by-side. The First Book editions are only available on the First Book Marketplace, First Book’s award-winning eCommerce site that offers free and affordable high-quality, new books and resources to educators serving kids in need. Additionally, Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books are donating 1,000 hardcover editions.

“Thousands of educators have told us that ensuring children feel welcome and safe is equally as critical to learning as paper and pencil, if not more,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “With our original resources and with ‘All Are Welcome,’ we are providing what educators have told us is missing—tools that nurture acceptance, respect, and empathy. We are past the point where espousing tolerance is enough, we have to actively provide kids with windows into other worlds and mirrors that reflect their own, so they understand that they, and everyone around them, have value.”

In a 2017 survey of First Book educators, 70 percent of respondents identified anxiety in their students caused by experiences with racism as a significant barrier to learning in their classrooms and programs, and 95 percent indicated that culturally relevant books and resources would help them create a productive learning environment.[1] Additionally, a recently released study from the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that racism has a profound effect on children’s health, and recommended an infusion of diverse books, particularly in early literacy programs, “to ensure that there is a representation of authors, images, and stories that reflect the cultural diversity” of children, in order to create a safe space.[2]

“We are so pleased to partner with First Book to broaden the reach of ‘All Are Welcome’ and its essential themes, and to place it into the hands of teachers and young readers across the country,” said Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books. ‘All Are Welcome’ is a story that encourages and supports children of all ages and backgrounds—and one that we are seeing resonate profoundly with parents and educators who are having important conversations with children about the world we live in today.”

First Book is also supporting educators serving kids in need with a suite of original, free, downloadable tools tailored to creating welcoming classrooms, including:

  • The 2019-2020 Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Calendar,* a comprehensive resource of holidays, religious celebrations, and notable dates in many cultures.
  • Promoting Respect and Empathy,* a toolkit of lessons and activities from First Book educators, created in response to educators’ request for an actionable resource.
  • Understanding Unconscious Bias,* a confidential self-assessment to help educators identify their own unconscious bias and employ strategies to reduce its impact.
  • Many Cultures, One Community, a book and resource collection developed in partnership with the NEA Foundation to teach key concepts related to diversity and inclusion. Each book in the collection is paired with a reading guide created with experts from Cook Ross, a national leader in diversity and inclusion training.
  • Creating Welcoming School & Communities, a section on the First Book Marketplace curated to cultivate a welcoming community in schools, classrooms, and programs.
  • The Stories for All ProjectTM, First Book’s curated collection of thousands of titles that reflect diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, family structure, neighborhoods, and more.

*Created in partnership with the Maryland State Education Association.


About First Book

First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 450,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 185 million books resources, valued at $1.5 billion, across the U.S. and Canada.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

About Random House Children’s Books

Random House Children’s Books ( is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, and nonfiction, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

[1] First Book Social Issues Impact Survey, 2017.

[2] Trent M, Dooley DG, Dougé J, AAP SECTION ON ADOLESCENT HEALTH, AAP COUNCIL ON COMMUNITY PEDIATRICS, AAP COMMITTEE ON ADOLESCENCE. The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health. Pediatrics. 2019;144(2):e20191765. DOI:

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