Big Book Donation Will Help Kansas City Kids Learn To Read

Sep 23, 2015

Publisher Random House donated a half million books to First Book, a nonprofit that then distributes the titles to kids from low-income families. Half of the books will stay in Kansas City.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

A national nonprofit organization that distributes books to children from low-income families made a stop in Kansas City Wednesday.

First Book is giving 300,000 titles donated by publisher Random House to Kansas City schools and literacy programs. Local partners Turn the Page KC and LINC are helping get the books to kids and teachers.

“One of the big factors in kids learning to read is access to books from a very young age,” says Mike English, executive director of Turn the Page KC. “Our goal is really to build home libraries for kids and families in low-income areas.”

Turn the Page KC, an initiative of Mayor Sly James, wants to get more Kansas City kids reading at grade level by third grade. Right now, English says just 49 percent are.

“We focus on third-grade reading because until third grade, kids are learning to read, and after you really need to know how to read to learn anything else,” English says.

English says the best way to get kids reading at grade level is to make sure they’re ready to learn when they reach kindergarten, which means emphasizing pre-K access and brain development.