In the U.S., inequities exist in childhood literacy outcomes that are correlated with demographic differences such as income, geographic location, race, ethnicity and languages spoken in the home. Research shows that learning inequities are deepened for children from underserved communities who have limited access to reading material. Study findings also underline an overall lack of representation in children’s books, especially in communities with low reading scores.
Room to Read works in targeted geographic areas and across populations in the U.S. with some of the greatest educational needs. By applying our unique expertise as a nonprofit global publisher of diverse children’s books, we address the deep education inequities that exist for children in the U.S. living in poverty and without access to books, ensuring that they can see and unlock their full potential.
To better understand where and how Room to Read could add value in the U.S., we commissioned a feasibility study in 2020 with support from our corporate partner, Tatcha, that analyzed the nationwide education landscape and identified geographic areas and communities where Room to Read investments in education will make the greatest impact.
Room to Read will work in regions where we can enhance existing systems and deliver considerable impact, with a primary focus on the diversity of representation in, and the voices elevated through, children’s book publishing. We will focus on reaching populations of need identified in the study, including children from Black, Latinx, Native and white American communities where high levels of poverty and rural environments create extreme barriers to learning. Children in foster care as well as children from immigrant and refugee populations also face increased vulnerabilities.
Our expertise in creating original and high-quality children’s books to meet the urgent need for diverse representation will enable us to tackle the lack of diversity and accessibility to children’s books in underserved communities. Alongside partnering with local organizations and utilizing our existing global collection of books, Room to Read will publish books in the U.S. with characters, themes and stories relevant to the lives of children in marginalized communities that authentically reflect their identities and cultures.