Research & Insights

Amplifying the voice of our Network

Highly Focused Research

First Book’s Research & Insights is a highly focused research capacity that aggregates and amplifies the voices of more than 575,000 educators serving children in need. Through extensive network surveys, focus groups, and interviews, our studies identify educator and student needs and help shape classroom resources as identified by educators to reach learners of all ages in historically underserved communities.

Accelerator Resources

First Book collaborates with leading academic institutions and other experts to quickly develop, package, and distribute actionable, research-based best practices that support the specific needs of educators and the children they serve. Most surveys conducted by our Research & Insights team result in a free Accelerator resource for educators.

Our Partnerships

We recognize that the work we’re doing cannot be achieved in a silo, which is why we work extensively with other nonprofits and corporate partners to help broaden the reach of our studies and positively impact even more Title I programs and classrooms. Below is just a selection of the many wonderful partners we work with to change the path of children growing up in poverty.

The Impact of Book Bans on Educators and Students

First Book Survey, 2023

To understand the impact that the national conversation around banned books is having on educators’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn, Research & Insights surveyed educators in the First Book Network.

This study reveals that the conversation and actions to ban and/or censor books in schools, libraries, and programs are having a negative impact on educators’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn — and these negative impacts reach far beyond just the districts that are facing bans. In addition, the book banning efforts are yet another example of decisions being made that impact or restrict what happens in classrooms without opportunities for educator voices to be considered in the decision process. This may further undermine educator expertise and erode educator morale.

The Impact of a Diverse Classroom Library

First Book Survey, 2023

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.

boy reading with hearing aid

Building Literacy Rich Classrooms

In partnership with Susan Neuman, 2022

Fifty-one percent of educators reported that their classroom library/reading area would be considered a literacy rich environment across all areas of the checklist. Yet, the survey reveals that a full 30 percent of classroom libraries fall short of meeting the literacy rich guidelines and educators currently see no way to meet them.

Fifty-four percent of educators report having 10 or fewer books per child in their classroom libraries. On average, educators also estimate that less than half (40 percent) of their book selections represent diverse cultures and almost one-third of educators do not consider their book collection to have an adequate representation of diverse cultures.

Student Mental Health in Low-Income Communities

In collaboration with On Our Sleeves, 2022

In October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association joined together to declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health – a crisis exacerbated by the stress of the pandemic and inequities resulting from structural racism. The declaration cited soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality.

Because of the cumulative impact that children in poverty have faced from the pandemic, along with challenging life experiences and compounding stressors related to race and culture, 98% of educators feel that current mental health challenges experienced by students are a barrier to education.

young asian boy sitting on the floor reading a book
young black girl holding a book, wearing a pink mask

ARP Funding & Priorities Survey

First Book Survey, 2021

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act has designated $123 billion to support K-12 schools and billions more for childcare and educational programs, to improve equity for children and families in need.

As we head into a new school year, First Book surveyed its network of educators to identify their priorities for ARP funding to support learning and address community needs. With the most significant investment in our education system designated for improving equity, First Book’s recent report from Research & Insights highlights areas where educators serving Title I schools, and under-resourced programs need the most support. Read the full report.

LEGO Education Solutions

In partnership with LEGO, CDW, and Intel, 2021

To address the issues of the digital divide intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, CDW, Intel Corporation, and LEGO® Education and the LEGO Foundation worked with First Book to build the Creating Learning Connections initiative (CLC). This initiative provided learning solutions designed to fuel education by supporting thousands of students and families in Title I schools in the United States impacted by the pandemic. Students received critical at-home and in-classroom learning resources, including internet connectivity, devices, and hands-on STEAM learning solutions—namely, LEGO Education Solutions.

Educational Barriers & Solutions Study

In partnership with Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), 2020

Appalachia has experience in trauma and resiliency that can guide our nation. As ground zero for our nation’s other health crisis, the opioid epidemic, Appalachia’s overdose mortality rate is 46% higher than the national average. Behind this statistic is an outsized number of children caught in situations of chronic stress.

When these children enter the classroom, their trauma comes too frequently as an invisible barrier to learning. Our recent study, Educational Barriers and Solutions, sought the perspective of Appalachian educators to better understand the type of support educators need in order to help children who are experiencing trauma.

COVID-19 Response Survey

In partnership with Intel, 2020

Educators are sounding the alarm. The data raises major concerns about mental health and the digital divide, citing COVID-19 as a crisis for kids in need as they head back to school.

The study cites four key factors contributing to this education crisis: 1) the mental/social-emotional health of kids and families; 2) access to learning tools and resources; 3) a widening digital divide making the need for books even more critical and 4) an extended summer regression in academic proficiency due to a long break from formal education.

young student sitting on the steps at a school

Social Issues Impacting Education Study

First Book Survey, 2019

First Book educators reported that the most common barriers to learning faced by kids in need have nothing to do with what goes on at school.

The majority of survey respondents cited a lack of family engagement, inadequate access to behavioral health support, and the impact of trauma as the most common obstacles preventing kids from learning.

Stress and Anxiety in the Classroom

First Book Survey, 2018

In underserved communities, student anxiety is getting in the way of learning, and increasing demands on educators, according to survey results gathered by First Book. 

child reading a book
group exercise class for molina healthcare

Social and Emotional Learning

In partnership with Molina Healthcare

The First Book-Molina Health Needs Assessment gathered input from more than 2,100 First Book members to identify the most significant barriers to health and wellness faced by kids in need. The results revealed that educators saw mental health issues as obstacles to academic success and a top priority.

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'.