We believe that access to books is a basic necessity for human development and that every child has the right to own books. Our mission is to eradicate book deserts by flooding underserved communities with diverse books that celebrate the lives of all people. Partnering with local organizations that are active in local communities, we work together to gift children hand-selected books that reflect and honor the experiences of children of all backgrounds.
1001 Diverse Books started in 2017 as part of Mango and Marigold Press’s continued mission to help increase accessibility to high quality representative children’s books. Over the last four years, Mango and Marigold’s generous supporters would sponsor copies of book, which would be distributed through local community literacy programs. As the number of sponsored books continued to grow, the deeper need for representative children books to reach communities that have been underserved became apparent and we did not want to limit it to only the books being published by Mango and Marigold Press. And so, in 2021, 1001 Diverse Books officially became an independent non-profit organization. Our goal is to partner with a wide range of publishers and authors of diverse books to flood communities with books that celebrate the experiences and lives of all people and cultivate a love for reading.
What is a “book desert”?
Coined by Unite for Literacy, a “book desert” is a geographic area where reading materials are difficult to obtain. These book deserts typically exist in high-poverty neighborhoods and correlate directly with lower literacy rates and poor academic performance. Book deserts limit children’s opportunity to come to school ready to learn and they call attention to structural inequalities that perpetuate vicious cycles of poverty. Our mission is to eradicate these book deserts and provide literacy opportunities that will help children break out of these cycles and reach their full potential.
What is a “book flood”?
Each year in Iceland, on Christmas Eve, thousands of Icelanders gift each other books and then spend the night reading. This decades-old tradition is called “Jolabokaflod” or the “Christmas Book Flood.” Iceland has a rich literary tradition and Icelanders love books. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. In 2009, book loans at the Reyjavik City Library totaled 1.2 million — in a city of only 200,000 people! That is the world we want to create – a world where there is a deep love for reading. We believe that we can begin eradicating book deserts with our own book floods. Our vision is to host book floods wherever book deserts exists so that children who lack access to books can begin their own literacy journeys that will form the basis for a lifetime of achievement and fulfillment.
Why do books matter?
As described above, the availability of books has a direct relationship with having strong literacy outcomes. Furthermore, illiteracy and poverty are closely intertwined. Without the ability to read, one’s chances of securing employment, shelter, health and other opportunities dwindles. Access to books early on has both immediate and long-term effects on children’s vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension skills. Research has shown that the presence of books in the home is related to children’s reading achievement. The absence of books is especially crippling for the very young, because 85 percent of brain development happens before kids begin school.
Why do diverse books matter?
Books are mirrors that reflect a child’s experience; they must include characters that look, talk, and act like them, their families, and their communities. Such books can be self-affirming and build self-confidence. When children are able to see themselves in books and stories, it sends a positive message that they belong and matter.
Books can also be windows, offering views of worlds that may be real, imagined, familiar, or strange. Windows are important because they can give readers a chance to explore things outside of their lived experiences, sparking imagination of fantastic lands or helping them learn about very real communities outside of their own. For children growing up in low-income communities, books can inspire dreams and goals that give children a purpose and hope in tough situation
Why does 1001 Diverse Books need my support?
1001 Diverse Books intends to use your generous contributions to purchase curated children’s books that specifically tell diverse stories that will resonate with the recipients of our book gifts and that reflect the experiences of children living in underrepresented communities. Our team will partner with publishers and authors who are invested in our mission to secure these books, and we will then gift these books to children living in book deserts through grassroots organizations dedicated to children’s literacy.
What about libraries?
We are fortunate to have a strong public library system in our country that makes high-quality children’s books available to all community members. This availability, no doubt, serves as a mitigating factor in many areas with limited access to books, but there are significant barriers that low-income families face in accessing library services. For example, many parents of poorer children work long and sometimes odd hours, have transit challenges, or aren’t familiar with the workings of libraries. One national survey found that only 8% of low-income families reported to have taken advantage of library resources. Thus, making books available at home is critical in creating a culture of literacy in the home.