CHICAGO, May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- An ambitious attempt to promote literacy in Chicago will get under way next week when First Book(R) (http://www.firstbook.org) and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (http://www.britannica.com) join forces to rally the local community in making sure all children have access to books. First Book, the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that has put more than 46 million new books in the hands of children from low-income families nationwide, will accelerate its work in the Chicago area, assemble a Local Advisory Board, and undertake fundraising for local and national initiatives. The effort will kick off at a May 17 reception at Britannica's La Salle Street headquarters, where First Book will meet Chicago-area educators and civic leaders to discuss First Book's mission to combat illiteracy by giving new books to children from low-income households, where books are often scarce. "First Book's mission is not to fight illiteracy, but to end it," explains Chandler Arnold, a senior vice president with First Book. "Encyclopaedia Britannica stands as an example of how a strong corporate citizen can team up with a passionate network of volunteers to do just that -- in Chicago and across the country." The facts about illiteracy are sobering. According to a recent study, the ratio of "age appropriate" books in some U.S. communities is as low as one for every 300 children. First Book redresses these shortages by distributing new books to children through networks of community and family-literacy organizations. These books are selected by program administrators, incorporated into program curricula, and then given to the children to take home and keep. Britannica and First Book are partners in one such effort, called "Encyclopedias for All." It provides high-quality reference works to schools and programs serving children from low-income families with the help of donations from corporations and individuals. Britannica officials say their experience with First Book has been so positive they're motivated to do more. "We've had a reading crisis in this country for decades, and with a few exceptions we haven't made much progress in solving it," said Michael Ross, a senior vice president with Britannica. "First Book is making a difference. Their program makes sense, it's well run and it works. We want to help them any way we can." About First Book First Book is a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Through hundreds of local Advisory Boards, the First Book National Book Bank, and the First Book Marketplace, the organization provides an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community-based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs. First Book has provided more than 46 million new books to children in need in thousands of communities nationwide. For more information about First Book, please visit http://www.FirstBook.org. About Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (http://www.britannica.com) is a leader in reference and education publishing whose products can be found in many media, from the Internet to cell phones to books. A pioneer in electronic publishing since the early 1980s, the company also still publishes the 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, along with services such as Britannica Online School Edition and new printed products such as Britannica Student Encyclopedia, which are available online at http://store.britannica.com. Britannica's editorial operation is overseen by some of the world's most distinguished scholars. The company makes its headquarters in Chicago.
SOURCE Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.