THE IMPACT OF A DIVERSE CLASSROOM LIBRARY

First Book Research & Insights study reveals the impact increasing access to diverse books in classroom environments has on student reading and students’ reading scores.

New Study Demonstrates the Importance of Diverse Books

First Book Research & Insights presents study results on the impact of having diverse books in classroom libraries

About the Study

First Book Research & Insights conducted this nationwide study to understand:

  1. The importance of diverse classroom libraries from the educator perspective.
  2. The importance of diverse classroom libraries with respect to student outcomes.

Through this intervention study, participating educators selected and added diverse books to their classroom libraries, and completed bi-monthly tracking surveys to gauge the impact of those diverse books. Among the findings: the pilot study revealed that increasing access to diverse books in the classroom environment increases the amount of time that children spend reading, and positively impacts students’ reading scores.

young boys in a reading party

Understanding the impact of diverse books is particularly critical for the children First Book serves: the more than 27 million children ages 0-18 who are growing up in economically disadvantaged communities. The lack of diverse books has been a critical issue for First Book and its community of 575,000 educators serving children in low-income communities nationwide. In previous surveys conducted by First Book Research & Insights, 90% of educators responding indicated that their students would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories, and images that reflect their lives.

This study reveals that increasing access to diverse books in the classroom environment increases the amount of time that children spend reading, and positively impacts students’ reading scores. It also reveals that while educators almost uniformly believe that a diverse classroom library is important, most classroom libraries fall far short of representing or reflecting the current diverse student population. Given these initial findings from our pilot study, additional research is needed to further understand the impact of diverse books.

To learn more about how the study was conducted click below:

Initial Study Key Findings

Students’ reading scores increased after educators added diverse books to their classroom libraries.

  • Educators reported gains in reading assessment scores for each bi-monthly survey period. The increases were 3 points higher (+9) than nationally expected average yearly gains.
  • Gains were greatest for the lowest scoring students (+11).
  • Classrooms that added bilingual titles and titles representing the LGBTQ+ community had the greatest improvements in student reading scores and reading engagement.
  • For every 1 additional bilingual book that educators added to their classroom library, student reading assessment scores improved by 7 points on average.
  • For every 1 additional LGBTQ+ book that educators added to their classroom library, student reading assessment scores improved by 4.5 points on average.

Students spent more time reading after educators added diverse books to their classroom libraries.

  • Over the course of this study, collective student reading time increased by 4 hours per week on average after educators added new, diverse books to their classrooms.
  • 70% of educators reported that their students more often choose books that feature characters that look like them (books that serve as mirrors).
  • Educators believe that diverse books are important, but diverse books are a small percentage of their classroom libraries.
  • 99% of educators agreed that having a diverse classroom library is important.
  • 75% of participants reported serving predominantly children of color. Yet diverse titles on average comprised only 28% of educators’ libraries.

To view the full report, including additional data and comments from educators, click below:

Conversations on the Impact of Diverse and Banned Books in the Classroom

A First Book Research & Insights Webinar

First Book Research & Insights hosted a well-attended webinar event to share results from their Diverse Books Impact Study and Banned Books Survey.

This data-driven session:

  • Featured a discussion about diverse books and how including them in classroom libraries can be beneficial for students and teachers.
  • Shed light on why banning certain diverse books can be harmful to the learning process.

Diverse Books Study Announced at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Study underscores the vital need for distribution of diverse titles to meet the needs of students across the country.

For more information about the Diverse Books for All Coalition, click here.

About First Book Research & Insights

First Book Research & Insights regularly gathers qualitative and quantitative data regarding the barriers to educational equity for children in low-income communities by directly surveying educators working with children in historically marginalized and underserved communities. This research drives First Book’s models, the resources it provides, and its partnerships. In addition, educator insights benefit the public, private, and social sectors, enabling input from educators to inform the design and refinement of programs, products, and strategies. This can increase resource effectiveness and adoption rates to better support both educators and children growing up in poverty, which disproportionately impacts children of color.