01/11/2017

AFT locals give 300,000 free books to kids

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Over the holidays, AFT state federations and local affiliates from Dallas to Immokalee, Fla., to Lowell, Mass., led multiple book distributions with community groups, school districts and parents to bring brand-new, free books to those in need.

Louisiana kids receive booksThe Louisiana Federation of Teachers organized book distributions to families and schools in parishes affected by devastating flooding, and the New York State United Teachers helped several locals host book truck distributions across the state. Three locals in Massachusetts—Boston, Lowell and Lynn—all held large-scale book distributions and donated books and school supplies to a neighboring district school that suffered damage from a recent fire.

"Not only did we help bring another 40,000 new books to our students' homes and members' classrooms and libraries," says Brant Duncan, president of the Lynn Teachers Union, "but it was just as exciting to see so many of our members, students and community volunteers come together to help unpack, sort and organize the books. It really created a sense of camaraderie and festive atmosphere, all centered around bringing the gift of reading to all."

FEA President Joanne McCall at First Book eventIn total, students, families, educators, school staff and community groups received more than 300,000 much-needed new books from the AFT and partner First Book to encourage reading, help kids succeed and bring communities together around their schools.

AFT locals also raised funds to supplement the free books with diverse, multicultural books from the First Book Marketplace to help all kids see themselves and their experiences in the books they read. All AFT members with free First Book accounts are able to order books, educational recourses, school supplies and even winter coats, hats and gloves at 50 to 90 percent off retail rates on the marketplace.

For more information on how your local can use First Book as a way to engage members and bring resources to your community, contact Tom Moran at tmoran@aft.org.

[Leslie Getzinger]