PRH, RHCB and First Book Partnership Features ALL ARE WELCOME as Centerpiece of Back-to-School Campaign That Prioritizes Diversity and Inclusion

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Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books have partnered with First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise committed to equal access to quality education, for a campaign that places diversity, acceptance, and inclusion at the center of First Book’s back-to-school efforts, in response to educator feedback that developing empathy and respect is a priority in increasingly multicultural classrooms. 

To support this effort, 15,000 copies of a First Book-exclusive affordable paperback edition of ALL ARE WELCOME, the Random House Children’s Books title written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, have been produced.  The book features a school with kids of different ethnicities, religions, abilities, and from different family structures playing side-by-side.  The First Book editions are only available on the First Book Marketplace, First Book’s award-winning eCommerce site that offers free and affordable high-quality, new books and resources to educators serving kids in need. Additionally, Penguin Random House and Random House Children’s Books are donating 1,000 hardcover editions.

“We are so pleased to partner with First Book to broaden the reach of ALL ARE WELCOME and its essential themes, and to place it into the hands of teachers and young readers across the country, says Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher, Random House Children’s Books. “ALL ARE WELCOME is a story that encourages and supports children of all ages and backgrounds—and one that we are seeing resonate profoundly with parents and educators who are having important conversations with children about the world we live in today.”

A perennial New York Times bestselling picture book, ALL ARE WELCOME lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

In a 2017 survey of First Book educators, 70 percent of respondents identified anxiety in their students caused by experiences with racism as significant barriers to learning in their classrooms and programs, and 95 percent indicated that culturally relevant books and resources would help them create a productive learning environment.  Additionally, a recently released study from the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that racism has a profound effect on children’s health, and recommended an infusion of diverse books, particularly in early literacy programs, “to ensure that there is a representation of authors, images, and stories that reflect the cultural diversity” of children, in order to create a safe space.

“Thousands of educators have told us that ensuring children feel welcome and safe is equally as critical to learning as paper and pencil, if not more,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “With our original resources and with ‘All Are Welcome,’ we are providing what educators have told us is missing—resources that nurture acceptance, respect, and empathy. We are past the point where espousing tolerance is enough, we have to actively provide kids with windows into other worlds and mirrors that reflect their own, so they understand that they, and everyone around them, have value.”

First Book is also supporting educators serving kids in need with a suite of original, free, downloadable tools tailored to creating welcoming classrooms, including:

  • The 2019-2020 Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Calendar,* a comprehensive resource of holidays, religious celebrations, and notable dates in many cultures.
  • Promoting Respect and Empathy,* a toolkit of lessons and activities from First Book educators, created in response to educators’ request for an actionable resource.
  • Understand Unconscious Bias,* a confidential self-assessment to help educators identify their own unconscious bias and employ strategies to reduce its impact.
  • Many Cultures, One Community, a book and resource collection developed in partnership with the NEA Foundation to teach key concepts related to diversity and inclusion. Each book in the collection is paired with a reading guide created with experts from Cook Ross, a national leader in diversity and inclusion training.
  • Creating Welcoming School & Communities, a section on the First Book Marketplace curated to cultivate a welcoming community in schools, classrooms, and programs.
  • The Stories for all ProjectTM, First Book’s curated collection of thousands of titles that reflect diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, family structure, neighborhoods, and more.

*Created in partnership with the Maryland State Education Association.

Posted: September 6, 2019