Give a kid a jacket, toy, or video game and give a gift that they will eventually outgrow, that will break, or run out of batteries. Give a book however and give a gift that is always the right size, will never break, and will never run out of power.
Give a book and make a difference this year with the second Penguin Random House #GiveaBook campaign which aims to donate 35,000 books to First Book, a non-profit dedicated to putting books into the hands of children. Penguin Random House will donate a book to First Book for every #GiveaBook hashtag shared on Twitter and Facebook between Nov. 16 to Dec. 24—up to 35,000 books.
How does the #GiveaBook campaign make a difference? By putting books directly into the hands of the children that need them. According to First Book founder Kyle Zimmer, more than 32 million children in the United States live in low-income households with, in some areas, only one book available for every 300 children.
“Every time we reach a child and they become a reader—we break the cycle and the future of that family is changed forever,” Zimmer said in an interview back in 2008.
First Book has provided more than 135 million books to children in the United States and Canada (and even conducted a test-campaign in India) by creating a network for book distribution between publishers and the teachers, caregivers, and program directors working with youth in low-income areas. One major distribution program is the First Book National Book Bank, the first publisher “clearinghouse” which provides a place for publishers to freely donate excess books to be distributed to the children who need them most.
“Once a child is a reader the doors to education swing wider—and, for me, educational opportunity is the next wave of the civil rights movement,” Zimmer said.
Penguin Random House hopes to surpass their goal of 35,000 impressions (hashtags) this year. Earlier this month the publisher ran a Facebook contest to name the #GiveaBook mascot, Givington the Generous Whale. The #GiveaBook Giving Map is a new feature, a searchable map that leads users to book drives, and #GiveaBook events in their area.
Last year, Penguin Random House surpassed their initial goal of 25,000 impressions and donated an additional 10,000 books to Save the Children, totaling 35,000 books.
“We know what an incredible impact reading to young children in the earliest months and years of their life can make, and we thank Penguin Random House and everyone who participated for giving more children a chance to reach their full potential,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children in an interview in January of 2015.
Save the Children distributed the books donated by #GiveaBook through their Early Steps to School Success program, which helps caregivers and parents of young children to build pre-literacy skills at home.
Literacy is important for so many reasons: Readers are more empathetic, they have increased attention-spans, and are practiced critical thinkers. According to the Harvard Educational Review, literacy is not only the foundation of our education, but a cornerstone of our freedom. Literacy is “one of the best predictors of a child’s future success.“
The 2014 #GiveaBook campaign launched on Nov. 29, Small Business Saturday, and ran through Dec. 24. Promotion included short videos of celebrities and authors sharing their favorite books and encouraging others to give the gift of reading. Deborah Harkness, author of the bestselling All Souls trilogy, recommended “Little Women.”
Giving a book can be a political act: Give a book and help fight illiteracy. Giving a book is also the most generous act of kindness: Give a book and give a time-machine/space-capsule/international passport that will never expire, run out of gas, or be described as “unrealistic.” Give a book, share a #giveabook tag, and give hope this holiday season with Penguin Random House and First Book.