Unleashing the Magic of Books: Empowering Children Through First Book Canada


© Courtesy of First Book Canada

A child’s first book is not necessarily their first reading experience—it is the first book that they connect with, which sets them on a lifelong path of learning. That first book can be the one that inspires a love of reading that stays with them forever.

As life-changing as reading can be, nearly 25 per cent of Canadian households do not have access to a single book. Low literacy levels place children at a disadvantage that perpetuates poverty. Since 2009, First Book Canada (FBC) has worked to bring a love of reading to children across the country who may not otherwise have access to books.

Books and educational resources are scarce in low-income households, schools, and communities. Kids start school behind their more affluent peers and never catch up. Their academic and economic prospects suffer, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. A national social enterprise and registered charity, FBC focuses on providing educational equity for children from low-income and historically excluded communities.

Over the years, FBC has distributed over 10 million books and educational resources to children in need through an extensive network of over 20,000 members. These dedicated individuals serve a wide range of Canadian kids in need, including those in schools, shelters, social service organizations, new-immigrant transition centers, clinics, hospitals, food banks, and sports organizations across every province and territory.

first book canada
© Courtesy of First Book Canada

The impact of FBC expands beyond the walls of a child’s home. By building up the home libraries of less-advantaged children, the FBC team works to develop resilient communities and reduce the educational inequities that entrench many Canadians in poverty. Many schools in economically disadvantaged communities in Canada can only afford one new library book a year for every three children—making it harder still for underprivileged children to kickstart and nurture a love of reading.

FBC programs play a crucial role in providing access to cultural capital in the form of new books, especially books that emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion. The FBC Marketplace is a treasure trove of these books, offering stories for all ages that feature diverse characters along journeys that honour a range of cultures and traditions. Ten per cent of all books acquired from the Marketplace are chosen from the growing list of Indigenous authored and illustrated titles.

FBC also offers books that strengthen the development of essential skills beyond literacy—including social and emotional competencies, S.T.E.A.M. education, and youth empowerment as change-makers. The program’s impact is incredible: In a poll of the FBC network, 83 per cent report seeing an increased interest in reading after receiving books from First Book Canada.

Home libraries empower children to make choices and cultivate their own collections of inspirational and informational books. These books, placed in the hands of children in need, serve as windows to a wider world beyond the confines of their circumstances. They act as mirrors, reflecting empowered and diverse experiences and opening doors to a lifelong journey of learning and opportunity.

This significant work would be impossible without the unwavering support of FBC’s generous donors, book-publishing partners, corporate sponsors, government institutions, and foundation allies. Their donations make it possible for more children to have access to books and help to foster a love of reading in children across the country.

For more information, please visit firstbookcanada.org or contact canada@firstbookcanada.org

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First Book Canada’s mission is to transform the lives of children in need by improving access to educational opportunities. By building up the home libraries of less-advantaged children, the FBC team works to develop resilient communities and reduce the educational inequities that entrench many Canadians in poverty.


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