Press Release

Michigan Educators, National AFT Union Join with First Book To Give Nearly Half a Million Books to Kids Here and Around the Nation

For Release: 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Tom Lansworth

Local Teachers and School Staff Help Distribute Books from Detroit Warehouse

DETROIT—American Federation of Teachers members from Detroit and other Michigan communities picked up tens of thousands of books at a local warehouse today that will be given to their students at no cost.

The free books are being provided as a result of a partnership involving the national AFT, AFT Michigan and First Book, a national nonprofit that has distributed more than 90 million books to children across the country over the last 20 years. In addition to the books for kids in Michigan, First Book and AFT volunteers shipped more than 400,000 books around the country from the book bank operated here this week as one of the activities leading up to the AFT's national convention at Cobo Center, July 27-30.

"When children have books of their own, they are so much more likely to develop the love of reading that is important to lifelong learning," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "That's why AFT members around the country are working with First Book to get books into the hands of children who otherwise cannot afford them. We want to level the playing field so that all kids can have books of their own."

This week's book bank was organized by a partnership involving First Book and AFT Michigan. Volunteers from Detroit-area AFT locals helped fill orders and load book cartons for those who came to the warehouse in Romulus, Mich., to pick up books.

"We're taking a stand with our friends at the AFT to make sure kids in Detroit and many other communities around the nation get the help they need—from all of us—to succeed," said Kyle Zimmer, First Book's president. She and other First Book officials will be participating in events at the AFT national convention next week.

"For AFT Michigan members, this is just the beginning of what we hope will be a permanent relationship with First Book," said AFT Michigan President David Hecker, who is an AFT vice president. "As we move ahead toward a new school year and beyond, we believe the partnership launched this week will enhance learning for our students for years to come."
More than 20,000 of the books distributed this week will go to kids in the Detroit area and other Michigan communities. A group of teachers and paraprofessionals from Toledo, Ohio, also picked up more than 10,000 books for their students at the book bank event.

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Media Contacts:

Tom Lansworth
American Federation of Teachers

Brian Minter
First Book
202-744-3432 (cell)

Dave Dobbie
AFT Michigan



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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.