An outspoken bibliophile, I’ve often been troubled by the lack of access to books for kids from needy families. The evidence regarding the effects of the lack of educational resources, especially books, on young children has been demonstrated repeatedly.
It’s a fact that kids need to have books in their hands, since, “By the age of 2, children who are read to regularly display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers. Raikes, H., Pan, B.A., Luze, G.J., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S.,Brooks-Gunn, J., Constantine, J., Tarullo, L.B., Raikes, H.A., Rodriguez, E. (2006). “Mother-child bookreading in low-income families: Correlates and outcomes during the first three years of life.” Child Development, 77(4).”
It’s also a fact that socioeconomic factors determine when, how and if kids will actually get books into their little learning-ready hands. One sobering point: a study from 2001 indicates that in some low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia there are as few as one book available for sale per 300 hundred kids. They’re not just not affordable for low-income families–they’re not readily available, either.
It’s why taking every opportunity to read to kids is so vital…read to the kids at the library, volunteer to read to kids at your local schools and yes, of course, read to the kids in your life at bedtime. I made it a personal goal for myself to do with my kids, and while I may not get to it every single night, it is a well-loved part of our family bedtime routine. My kids love the stories, the quality family time and the chance to snuggle. I love that we get to connect and that something that is so enjoyable for us as a family is also incredibly beneficial for them. Even a 2-minute story makes a huge difference for a child. Try it, I promies you won’t regret it, and may also come to love it!
Yesterday, First Book, a nonprofit that provides new, high-quality books to children from low-income families, announced via press release that it is asking the public to choose which iconic children’s title they will give away as their 100 millionth book in November.
“In some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the country there is only one book available for every 300 children, unlike more affluent neighborhoods where every child has a dozen or more books of their own,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “This disparity is intolerable.”
“We’ve chosen ten great books we think every child should own,” Zimmer said. “Kids need books like these to turn them into strong readers and help them become success stories – in school and in life.”
Head here to vote for the top of the ten children’s books, which will be given away next month. See the top 10 list below; most of them are available on our site.
Top 10 Children’s Books
A Wrinkle in Time (Macmillan)
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (Simon & Schuster)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Abrams)
Eating the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin)
Green Eggs and Ham (Random House)
Guess How Much I Love You (Candlewick Press)
Martin’s Big Words (Disney Publishing Worldwide)
The Snowy Day (Puffin)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Hachette)
Where the Wild Things Are (HarperCollins)
Voting continues through Nov. 9. To vote, visit firstbook.org/vote and the winning title will be announced on Nov. 15. Children at the program will receive their very own copies of the winning title. Anyone who works with kids in need is eligible to get books from First Book free of charge, visit First Book on the web to sign up.