Reading Is Fundamental Offers Expansive Multicultural Book Collection Aiming to Help Close Achievement Gap

Feb 08, 2012, 08:00 ET from Reading Is Fundamental

Activities for Parents and Educators Accompany Each Title

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's largest children's literacy nonprofit, has released the 2011-12 Multicultural Book Collection, featuring high-quality books for children grades K-4. RIF has distributed the collection to RIF programs across the country since 2007 as part of its Multicultural Literacy Campaign, a multi-year initiative to promote and support early childhood literacy in African American, Hispanic and American Indian communities.  In honor of the organization's 45th anniversary, this year's collection features 45 children's books highlighting the theme "celebration." Each book in the collection was carefully reviewed and selected by RIF's Literacy Services team with guidelines provided by RIF's Literature Advisory Board and Multicultural Advisory Committee, national panels of educators and experts in children's literature.

Literature that features diverse characters, themes, and situations is more important than ever as reading scores among African-American, Hispanic and Native American students continue to lag significantly behind those of White and Asian students. According to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, of fourth-grade students scoring in the highest percentile on reading assessments, 71 percent were White while only 7 percent were Black and 11 percent were Hispanic.

"When children see themselves in the books they read at a young age, they are motivated to read more books and read more often. Books are powerful mirrors and windows for all of us," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. "This collection and its accompanying resources are critical keys to closing the achievement gap."

A full list of the new collection's selected titles is available on RIF's website along with complementary educational resources for parents and educators to expand on the topics and themes found in the books.

This year's list includes celebrated and award-winning titles such as:

Throughout the year, RIF will be distributing 660 complete sets of the collection, totaling 29,700 books, to local RIF Programs across the country. The donation of these book collections is made possible through generous contributions from the program's lead sponsor, Macy's

Celebrating Multicultural Children's Literature with the Library of Congress

Today, RIF will host a special event to celebrate the latest Multicultural Book Collection at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center.

The event will include a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Judy Cheatham, RIF's Vice President of Literacy Services, and will feature esteemed panelists:

  • Joseph Bruchac, Ph.D., highly acclaimed writer, poet, critic, storyteller and scholar. Bruchac wrote the collection's A Boy Called Slow
  • Loretta Lopez, freelance web designer, illustrator and author. Lopez wrote and illustrated The Birthday Swap, which is also in the collection.
  • Christopher Myers, Brooklyn artist and author who has received the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Honor. Myers authored and illustrated the collection's Wings.
  • Violet Harris, Ph.D., chair of RIF's Literature Advisory Board and professor of Language and Literacy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Additionally, Margaret McNamara Pastor, member of RIF's Board of Directors and daughter of RIF Founder Margaret McNamara, will make a donation of two sets of the Multicultural Book Collection to the Library of Congress Young Readers Center.

For additional information on Reading Is Fundamental and its 2011-2012 Multicultural Book Collection, please visit

About Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF)

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at


SOURCE Reading Is Fundamental