First Book Prioritizes Diversity and Inclusion at Start of School Year

Red heart and diary on wooden table

In response to educator feedback, First Book is partnering with Penguin Random House to provide books and tools that remind students ‘All Are Welcome’

WASHINGTONSept. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise committed to equal access to quality education, is placing diversity, acceptance, and inclusion at the center of its back-to-school efforts, in response to educator feedback that developing empathy and respect is a priority in increasingly multicultural classrooms. To support the effort, First Book partnered with Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books to create 15,000 copies of a First Book-exclusive paperback edition of “All Are Welcome,” the children’s book written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. The book features a school with kids of different ethnicities, religions, and abilities, and from different family structures playing side-by-side. The First Book editions are only available on the First Book Marketplace, First Book’s award-winning eCommerce site that offers free and affordable high-quality, new books and resources to educators serving kids in need. Additionally, Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books are donating 1,000 hardcover editions.

“Thousands of educators have told us that ensuring children feel welcome and safe is equally as critical to learning as paper and pencil, if not more,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “With our original resources and with ‘All Are Welcome,’ we are providing what educators have told us is missing—tools that nurture acceptance, respect, and empathy. We are past the point where espousing tolerance is enough, we have to actively provide kids with windows into other worlds and mirrors that reflect their own, so they understand that they, and everyone around them, have value.”

In a 2017 survey of First Book educators, 70 percent of respondents identified anxiety in their students caused by experiences with racism as a significant barrier to learning in their classrooms and programs, and 95 percent indicated that culturally relevant books and resources would help them create a productive learning environment.1 Additionally, a recently released study from the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that racism has a profound effect on children’s health, and recommended an infusion of diverse books, particularly in early literacy programs, “to ensure that there is a representation of authors, images, and stories that reflect the cultural diversity” of children, in order to create a safe space.2

“We are so pleased to partner with First Book to broaden the reach of ‘All Are Welcome’ and its essential themes, and to place it into the hands of teachers and young readers across the country,” said Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books. “‘All Are Welcome’ is a story that encourages and supports children of all ages and backgrounds—and one that we are seeing resonate profoundly with parents and educators who are having important conversations with children about the world we live in today.”

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