The City of Norwalk’s Early Childhood Office has been selected to receive an award of $15,000 for new books that will expand Norwalk’s early childhood work. First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation. This program will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
The Norwalk Early Childhood Office will use the award to increase access to books for Norwalk families with children ages 0-5. Working with community partners including Family and Children’s Agency, the Norwalk Public Library, the Fox Run Elementary School Family Resource Center, and the Norwalk Housing Authority, age-appropriate books will be distributed through existing programs. These programs include home visiting, early learning groups, early care and education programs, the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at the Norwalk Public Library, and PK-K transition initiatives through Norwalk ACTS.
“A home with books helps to encourage reading for pleasure. We know that 80% of brain growth happens by age 3. Parents having books readily available in the home will encourage sharing books with their children,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling. “With this award, we will be able to bring new, high-quality, contemporary books to Norwalk children.”
Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace, First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform that best meets the needs of the children they serve. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed through the OMG Books Awards will be more than $12 million.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and the City of Norwalk are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall well-being of our nation.”
Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States. Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’ – with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children. Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all.
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join.
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