Books

First Book Canada launches campaign to deliver 1 million books to low-income families during COVID-19 pandemic

Many schools and public libraries have closed, leaving educators to implement at-home learning plans without necessary resources.
First Book Canada is an organization dedicated to getting more books for children into Canadian households. (CBC)

First Book Canada has launched a campaign to help educators supporting children in need across the country in light of recent school and public library closures.

The campaign aims to get 1 million books to children who don't have home libraries or Internet access.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools and public libraries have closed, leaving educators to implement at-home learning plans without necessary resources and some children without what may be their only access to the Internet or books. 

"As soon as members heard that literacy groups, public libraries, schools and day care centres were being closed across Canada, we were bombarded with requests for books and educational materials," First Book Canada executive director Tom Best told CBC Books via email. 

"I would have to say it was our network who told us they needed help and pushed us to take action."

First Book Canada is calling for donations to achieve its objective. The organization is also managing an updated marketplace of low-cost books, activities and resources for educators and parents to use at home, including some free books and resources.

Canadian publishers who have committed books to the program include Kids Can Press, Penguin Random House Canada, HarperCollins Canada, Breakwater Books, Simon & Schuster Canada and Inhabit Media. Donations are also being made by distributors like Raincoast Books and Publishers Group Canada and the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

First Book Canada wants to put books in the hands of children in need. We met executive director, Tom Best. 6:35

First Book Canada's mission is to make books more accessible to kids. The organization hosts a network of over 14,000 educators serving children in low-income communities.

"The most startling statistic is that 25 per cent of Canadian households don't have a single book in them," Best said in an interview with CBC Toronto in 2019. "And that has nothing to do with the whole digital revolution."

The organisation celebrated its 10th anniversary in Canada in 2019 and estimated it had distributed seven million books.

A similar drive is being organized in the United States, with the aim of distributing 7 million books there.

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