With the start of the 2022-23 school year, more than 27,000 students in grades K-8 will receive new books to own, thanks to a partnership with Reading Is Fundamental, the oldest and largest children's literacy nonprofit in the U.S. Amazon is donating more than 75,000 books and other materials to inspire the joy of reading among students in 200 cities. This partnership underscores Amazon’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of lifelong readers by reducing barriers to learning.
The partnership launched during Amazon’s Global Month of Volunteering, an initiative dedicated to driving meaningful impact in the communities where employees live and work. For a month, Amazon employees participated in community activities to support causes they care about, including volunteering at local food banks, helping job-seekers build resumes, and emphasizing the importance of equitable access to education. Amazon also worked with organizations across the country to support students, teachers, and families as they prepared for the academic year, filling thousands of backpacks with school supplies, hosting virtual reading sessions, and supporting book fairs at local schools.
The Reading Is Fundamental partnership and investment comes at a time when schools are increasingly challenged with providing students with access to new, high-quality books. Amazon committed over $1 million to support literacy in more than 200 U.S. Title I eligible schools—schools with a high percentage of students from families who need financial assistance. According to reports from the Council on Early Childhood and National Center for Education Statistics, in North America, 34% of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills needed to learn how to read, and 65% of fourth graders read below grade-level. Research from Unite for Literacy found that if a child grows up in a home with more than 100 books, they have a 90% probability of graduating ninth grade, compared to 30% in bookless homes. Many children in underserved communities lack access to books on their reading level, or a variety of choices that interest them.
“As we begin a new school year, Amazon’s investment in our mission will bring thousands of diverse books and reading resources to over 27,000 children in our most under-resourced communities in the country,” said Alicia Levi, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. “Being included in Amazon’s Global Month of Volunteering unites employees from both our organizations in support of children’s literacy and their future potential.”
Cassandra Johnson, a librarian at Hulsing Elementary School in Canton, Michigan, was overjoyed when she found out that Amazon was surprising students with books they could take home and own forever. For some children, these are their very first books. For others, they are adding to a small, but prized, collection.
“One of my favorite childhood memories was receiving a RIF book at school each year,” Johnson said. “Access to books—and the adventures between their pages—should be equitable, but unfortunately, our most marginalized communities are missing out. I’m proud to see Amazon help close this literacy gap with partners like Reading Is Fundamental. My students will be forever grateful.”
Rachel Leff, a human resources manager in Phoenix, is one of 5,000 Amazon volunteers across North America supporting various activities like packing and delivering book donations, recording book preview videos to inspire young readers, and hosting special book fair celebrations at schools in Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, and Phoenix.
Leff spent time in high school as a youth tutor, and volunteered with Reading Is Fundamental during her college years.
“Seeing the children smile when you read them a story or donate a book brings me joy and reinforces why I volunteer,” Leff shared. “I am very thankful to work for a company that has allowed me to grow my passion in this space while helping others.”
Learn more about how Amazon is supporting community organizations across the globe during the Global Month of Volunteering—and throughout the year.