Penguin Random House, as part of READ TOGETHER, BE TOGETHER (#ReadTogetherBeTogether), a movement launched by the U.S. children's divisions of Penguin Random House, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children's Books, in partnership with Meredith Corporation's PARENTS, has donated 750,000 books to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to equal access to quality education. The donation was made to meet the urgent need expressed by educators coping with school closures as a result of COVID-19.
More than 6,000 educators in the First Book Network, who are still working to serve kids in need, have made urgent requests for books, both to help students continue learning, but also to provide a needed sense of normalcy. First Book has been raising funds to cover the cost of shipping the desperately needed books and resources to programs and schools serving kids in need. The books donated by Penguin Random House will be deployed to programs and schools that are currently delivering books, food, and supplies to our youngest citizens who are isolated and locked out of a learning environment.
More than 300 of Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children's Books brand books that kids love will be donated, including LLAMA LLAMA GIVES THANKS by Anna Dewdney, CHOMP by Carl Hiaasen, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys, and THE CAT IN THE HAT SONGBOOK by Dr. Seuss. In addition to the book donation, Penguin Random House is also covering the cost of shipping the books to First Book, valued at $25,000.
"We would not be in a position to make such a powerful impact on children in need without the support of our amazing partners at Penguin Random House," said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO and co-founder of First Book. "This generous donation is so meaningful. Books super-charge learning for kids in need, who are particularly vulnerable right now. When schools closed, these kids lost a place that was not only providing education, but so many different forms of critical support. These beautiful new books make it possible to provide tremendous support for kids who need it, while also encouraging a love of reading. Not a day goes by that we aren't grateful to Penguin Random House for their ongoing support."
Madeline McIntosh, CEO of Penguin Random House U.S., said, "It is a privilege to again join with First Book to help bring our authors' and illustrators' works to children and communities in need. We know that books have the power to connect and sustain us, particularly in challenging times, and we want to do all we can to directly reach children and ensure we are developing lifelong readers."
Originally set to launch in summer 2020 with nationwide retail, educator and consumer activations, the READ TOGETHER, BE TOGETHER program began on March 23rd with a series of daily virtual story times with bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, and celebrity readers as a response to COVID-19 school closures. The full READ TOGETHER, BE TOGETHER campaign will be announced early this summer, and will include specially priced exclusive editions of child-and-parent favorite titles that will be available at retailers throughout the country. Weekly event schedules can be found at readtogetherbetogether.com.
First Book and Penguin Random House are long-standing partners, united by the mission to help children everywhere access books and educational materials regardless of their socioeconomic situation. Last year, Penguin Random House joined with Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to announce that the company would donate an additional 300,000 children's books to First Book, building upon its previously announced donation of one million of its children's books to First Book in the Obama family's name. Plans for the 1 million-book donation were originally announced in 2017 when Penguin Random House acquired world publication rights to publish books by President and Mrs. Obama.