First Book

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First Book logo.jpg

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that provides new books and educational resources to children from low-income families. First Book makes new books and other educational resources available for free and at deeply reduced prices - exclusively to educators and community program leaders who serve kids in need, from birth to age 18. To date, First Book has provided more than 125 million new books and resources to kids in need. First Book has created the largest and fast-growing network of educators and program leaders working with kids from low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada: 160,000 strong with 6,000 joining every month.[1]


1992: First Book was started by Peter Gold, Elizabeth Arky, and Kyle Zimmer in 1992. At the time, Kyle, then a corporate attorney, was volunteering regularly at a soup kitchen in Washington DC. During this experience, and while traveling the country while representing the Navajo nation, she met educators and community leaders working with kids from low-income families. She discovered nearly all lacked sufficient books and educational resources to ensure kids have the opportunity to read, learn and succeed. Kyle and two friends and colleagues, Liz and Peter, established First Book to provide an ongoing supply of books to those working with children living in poverty.

1995: Kyle Zimmer leaves her job as a corporate lawyer to focus on First Book full time as President and CEO.

1998: First Book establishes the First Book National Book Bank, the first centralized distribution system for large-scale donations of children’s books from publishers to First Book programs.

2008: First Book launches the First Book Marketplace, an online site offering high-quality children's books and educational materials at deeply discounted prices, exclusively to programs registered with First Book.

2009: First Book launches operations in Canada.

2012: First Book distributes its 100 millionth book.

2013: First Book begins to scale globally, establishing the First Book Global Marketplace at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

2013: First Book launches the Stories for All Project to make more diverse, multicultural books and resources available to the children it serves and the retail market.

2014: First Book’s network grows to over 150,000 educators and program leaders working in the lives of children in need.

2014: We Give Books becomes part of First Book, expanding opportunities to deliver more great children’s books than ever before.

Business Model[edit]

As a nonprofit social enterprise, First Book creates new ways of doing good by applying smart business practices to make books available, affordable and accessible to educators serving the children in greatest need. First Book has created two innovative and powerful distribution channels: The First Book Marketplace and the First Book National Book Bank.

The First Book Marketplace - Available only to community programs and schools serving children in need, the First Book Marketplace is an award-winning online site offering an astonishing array of high-quality new books – including Caldecott and Newbery winners – at prices 50 to 90 percent below retail. By combining the purchasing power of schools and programs into a single powerful network, First Book provides a wide array of new titles at unprecedented prices. First Book works with leading publishers and other suppliers to source books and resources. [2]

The First Book National Book Bank - Through the First Book National Book Bank, First Book connects publishers with local schools and community programs serving children in need. The nation’s only clearinghouse for large-scale book donations, the National Book Bank puts over 8 million books each year into the hands of kids in need. [3]

Who Can Sign Up with First Book[edit]

Anyone working with or volunteering with children from low-income families can sign-up at Teachers, principals, librarians and other staff in Title I schools (more than one person can sign up per school and classroom); Program leaders and volunteers in mentoring groups, before/after school programs, Head Starts and preschools, food banks, homeless shelters, literacy groups, military support organizations and more.

The Stories for All Project[edit]

The Stories for All Project is a breakthrough initiative that addresses the lack of diversity in children's literature with a market-driven, sustainable solution. Through the Stories for All Project, First Book is bringing more inclusive, diverse, multicultural books and resources to the children in need and opening up the retail market to more diverse, underrepresented voices and content.

In March of 2013, First Book purchased $1 million worth of titles featuring a diverse array of characters from a wide spectrum of authors, all of which are now available to the schools and programs through the First Book Marketplace.

In early 2014, thanks to funding from Disney, First Book curated a special collection of books focused on the needs of Latino children, and reached out to 10,000 new educators serving Hispanic kids with grants to help them get books.

In the summer of 2014, First Book issued a new call to publishers to share great books from unpublished authors telling stories from under-represented communities. First Book pledged to buy copies of each title selected. [4]

Honors and Awards[edit]

First Book and its CEO/ co-founder Kyle Zimmer have been recognized for social innovation, impact and nonprofit excellence by: Charity Navigator, Forbes Magazine, the World Economic Forum, The Schwab Foundation, Wharton, Stanford, Oxford, Yale, and the National Book Foundation. [5]

Kyle Zimmer won the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award (2014) for her lifetime work at First Book. [6]


First Book partner with an array of leading brands including: Target, Random House, JetBlue, The Molina Foundation, TD Bank and more. Corporations such as Disney, Barclays, KPMG, General Mills and philanthropist/cosmetics heiress Aerin Lauder are also partners of the organization. [7]

First Book also works with leading recognized nonprofits including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Feeding America, National Head Start Association and literacy leaders like Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Reach Out and Read and more. [8]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Innovation in Publishing". Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  3. ^ "The First Book National Book Bank". Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  4. ^ "The Stories for All Project". Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ "First Book Honors and Awards". Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Literacy advocate Kyle Zimmer to receive honorary National Book Award". Yahoo! News. Canada. Associated Press. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  7. ^ Heath, Thomas (April 14, 2013). "Value Added: Nonprofit First Book steals a page from the business world". Washington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  8. ^ "First Book Partners". Retrieved February 12, 2015.