Britannica & First Book Unite for Literacy in Chicago, Nationwide

'Encyclopedias for All' partners team up for local effort

May 10, 2007, 01:00 ET from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

    CHICAGO, May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- An ambitious attempt to promote
 literacy in Chicago will get under way next week when First Book(R)
 ( and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
 ( 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
     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
     About Encyclopaedia Britannica
     Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. ( 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
 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.