The following is a statement by Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO, and Co-founder, First Book:
Our nation is reeling from the unrest in Charlottesville and the hateful rhetoric that is reverberating across the country. These groups and their acts of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and homophobia are repulsive and counter to our belief in the fundamental rights that First Book has championed as leaders in the fight for educational equity.
Among those most vulnerable to this climate of violence and terror are our nation’s children, in particular, children from low-income areas, including communities of color, immigrants, rural communities, and other underserved populations. First Book stands with these communities every day, providing desperately needed educational resources and supporting the heroic educators and other caring adults who work to lift these children up. These outrageous acts of hate are not only antithetical to all we believe in, but do insidious and lasting damage to these children, families, and communities – and to all of us.
First Book is committed to supporting those working in the lives of children in need with resources to help kids and families who are struggling. First Book will shortly announce an initiative to increase the supply of books and educational resources to elevate empathy and understanding, including diverse and inclusive books, and social and emotional learning guides to help children navigate their feelings and fears.
As a tangible next step, we are making a gift of new books to educators serving children in need in the Charlottesville area and beyond to help them begin to restore a sense of normalcy. We are in continuous conversation with our more than 325,000 First Book members across the country – the largest network of educators serving children from low-income communities – as to what they need and how we can best support them during this time.
We have seen first-hand the power of stories to blunt hate, create empathy, and change lives. That is our focus. Our responsibility to these children, families, educators, and communities is unwavering. As we reach this new level of crisis in our country, we are reminded that this work – while always important – has reached a new level of urgency.