black students happy and waving at the camera

Black Kids Matter

In partnership with National Grid and TD Bank

Amplifying Black Voices

The Black Kids Matter Initiative was created to amplify, celebrate, and empower the voices of Black children and other children of color.

What do you see in yourself that you want others to see?

image with a child's drawing with the words "I'm beautiful, I'm unique, I'm kind, I matter because I am me."

In 2021, the Black Kids Matter Initiative kicked off in seven states across the Eastern seaboard, where educators encouraged their students to express the many ways that Black and Brown kids are special.

Educators submitted a wonderful array of videos, drawings, writing, and poetry expressing the voices of the kids of color they serve. From drawings to videos to poems – Black kids and other kids of color shared their expressions with us.

What’s New with This Year’s Initiative: More Access, More Availability of Diverse Books!

Thanks to the support of our partners TD Bank and National Grid, this year the Black Kids Matter Initiative focuses on the importance of uplifting diverse Black and Brown authors, voices, characters, and stories so more children of color can continue to be inspired by the books they read. The contributions of our generous partners help First Book invest in and promote books by existing and NEW Black authors. We are excited to continue increasing the quantity and breadth of diverse books in the “Black Characters & Cultures” and other select Stories For All Project™ categories on the First Book Marketplace through this Initiative.

Learn more about these titles by visiting the First Book Marketplace!

image of book titles from First Book's Black Characters and Cultures section on the Marketplace.

Windows & Mirrors All Year Long

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop shared, “Children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they see themselves and windows through which they see the world.” In order to spark imagination, children need to see their lives reflected in the stories they read, but many children in low-income communities don’t have access to books.

The Black Kids Matter Initiative helps First Book distribute more culturally relevant books that showcase diverse characters and stories to children in need. In addition to promoting these diverse and affirming books during Black History Month and Juneteenth, the Black Kids Matter Initiative highlights the importance of celebrating these books all year. From highlighting and distributing inspiring books featuring Black voices, characters, and experiences; to engaging the students we serve in author events, the Black Kids Matter Initiative helps promote #BlackBooksAllYear.

Shop the Marketplace

Educators serving Title I schools and programs are eligible to shop First Book’s Marketplace to bring diverse and brand-new books to their classrooms at a reduced price. It’s free to join our Network!

Educational Equity

Racial disparities in classrooms strike at the heart of educational equity. First Book is addressing these disparities by ensuring that students of color in low-income communities know that their voices are heard and matter and that they have the resources and materials they need to not only learn, but thrive.  The video to the right showcases artwork from students sharing why they are special and why their voices matter. Wide access to books and home libraries filled with culturally relevant titles offer young minds the chance to soak up creativity, promote a strong self-image, and foster a love for learning at an early age.

As part of the campaign, both National Grid and TD Bank – through the TD Ready Commitment – are enabling First Book to make books available through schools and programs serving children in low-income and historically excluded communities.

This celebration of the voices of Black and Brown children comes at a critical time in our country when we all need to listen and encourage children of color to find and share their voices. At the same time, research confirms that children who see themselves in the books they read are more likely to embrace reading, and it is also essential for all children to see their peers represented in the books they read and to hear their stories – to encourage understanding, empathy, and inclusivity. We are so grateful to our presenting sponsor National Grid and our partner TD Bank for their support in launching this campaign.

Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO, and Co-founder of First Book

At the Heart of What We Do

At the heart of our work for 30 years is our commitment to helping educators have productive, inclusive, and age-appropriate conversations about race with their students and we are dedicated to continuing to support and expand this mission. 

Empowering Educators 

Educators can explore our free resources through Empowering Educators, which includes guides and videos to help educators have age-appropriate conversations about race in the classroom.

Our Commitment

At First Book, we believe that the power of education lies in the full examination of truths and open dialogue. This approach should be consistent, whether we are focusing on literature, science, or the history of the United States.

To achieve educational equity and truly educate our children we must embrace a fact-based and thorough evaluation of our country’s history. Our children will take us into the future, and having a full understanding of past events ensures that we move forward as a healthy, empathetic, and compassionate nation. As philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

At the heart of our work for 30 years is our commitment to helping educators have productive, inclusive, and age-appropriate conversations about race with their students, and we are dedicated to continuing to support and expand this mission.

Thank You to Our Partners

image of an educator reading to two kids from a picture book. There is text that says, 'Matching Challenge: Be a Champion for Educators! Your gift by May 31 can go twice as far to provide new, high-quality books and other resources educators need to help students unlock their full potential.' There is a red button in the bottom, right corner that says, 'I'll give now'.