Black girl wearing a mask holding a book.

Reading Opens the World Campaign Surpasses 500,000

Joey Mathis is a First Book Marketing and Communication intern. She is currently an undergrad student at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

First Book has partnered with the American Federation of Teachers for more than a decade. Together we have worked to combat educational inequity by bringing books and educational resources to communities in need, specifically through engaging directly with those most impacted by educational inequity. Our previous partnerships have helped to build classroom libraries across the country and distributed books to children living in “book deserts.” 

In 2021, the AFT launched the Reading Opens the World initiative with the overall goal of distributing one million books across the country and these four background objectives:  

  1. Giving teachers and school staff the tools and professional development that translates the science of reading into useable resources to help students read and read well; 
  1. Giving parents and caregivers fun and research-based tips and tools to support literacy; 
  1. Building on and forging new connections between families, communities, educators and schools to be partners in students’ literacy; and 
  1. Giving children and young people free books to read, love and keep. 
Black girl wearing a mask holding a book.

The Campaign So Far 

The AFT Reading Opens the World campaign has surpassed the halfway mark of their goal by distributing more than 600,000 books in 20 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico. First Book is one of many partners involved in this initiative and helps to distribute and supply books to AFT. They’ve hosted more than 100 book distribution events this year, and plan to continue hosting similar events for years to come. This year, the AFT has expanded the campaign by hosting book events, holding webinars for educators, taking a brand-new bookmobile to book deserts around the country, and hosting ongoing programs for family engagement in rural and hard-to-reach areas.  

Through this campaign, AFT also awards grants to help educators host their distribution and community events. Their work is already making a difference in these communities as educators, students, and their families participate in these events in large numbers. One award recipient noted that, “Partnering with Reading Opens the World has helped us cast a wider net and allow many more families in our community to access books, build home libraries, and develop identities as readers.”  

AFT has no plans of slowing down now that they’ve distributed more than half of their goal. To keep up with the Reading Opens the World initiative, check out the campaign website 

Partner With First Book 

First Book works closely with a variety of businesses, non-profits, and individuals to promote equal access to quality education for children in need. With our partners, we have distributed more than 225 million books and educational resources. We invite everyone to explore ways to work together to provide even more books and resources to kids who need them.