Press Release

AFT-First Book Partnership Celebrates Donating 10 Million Books

West Virginia received 442,000; McDowell County received more than 100,000

For Release:


Fred Albert

CHARLESTON, W.Va.—The AFT-First Book partnership is celebrating today an astonishing milestone of donating more than 10 million brand-new free books to students, schools, community centers and faith-based institutions nationwide since 2011, including more than 442,000 books in West Virginia.

The AFT-First Book partnership held its first-ever book event at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School in Charleston, W.Va., in 2011. Since then, it has distributed more than 442,000 books to West Virginia schools. Through the Reconnecting McDowell initiative, McDowell County schools, students and families have received more than 100,000 books as well as care closets with personal hygiene supplies and clothing. During the pandemic, AFT McDowell held a “drive-through” book distribution for students and families.

“Books can have a profound impact on children. When kids select the books themselves at the various book distributions throughout the state, it gives them a sense of ownership and pride. The AFT-First Book donations hopefully have helped West Virginia children love books and become great readers for the rest of their lives,” said AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said of the 10 million-book milestone: “Educators know that literacy is central to all academic success, and having access to both new, thoughtful titles and enduring classics is a foundation stone. And as students face anxiety, trauma and a world that’s increasingly online, the power of a physical book can be transformational, opening their eyes to a world of possibilities. That’s why, as others try to ban books, we give them out.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.