Check out our 2012-2013 Annual Report for more information about our impact.
The Need for Our Work
The FCB aims to inspire young readers and writers in urban classrooms. We hope to inform and energize their teachers and librarians about great multi-cultural books for kids and give them new tools for teaching writing. We want to foster a dynamic culture of literacy in the schools where we work.
Many factors in under-served Boston classrooms and communities make our work vitally important:
- Reading scores have not improved in decades. Nationally 83% of low-income 4th graders score at “Below Proficient” levels vs. 55% of middle-income student cohorts (Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count 2010)
- Most of our programs are geared to students in grades 3-6. Since 2001, only 30% or less of Boston 3rd graders scored proficient or above on standardized reading tests, far worse than the rates found elsewhere in MA (The Boston Foundation Boston Indicators Project, 2012)
- At most of the schools we visit, over 80% of students are students of color. There is a distinct achievement gap on standardized reading tests when examined by race/ethnicity—only 25% of all African American and Latino students achieve a score of proficient compared to 50% of all white and Asian students (Boston Indicators, 2008)
- By the time children from low-income families enter kindergarten, they are 12-14 months behind national norms in language and pre-reading skills (Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count 2010)
- Families living in poverty often lack the money to buy new books, as well as access to libraries. In fact, 61% of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes. (Reach Out and Read)
- Of the 22 schools we have visited, 10 are in Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester. The highest concentrations of child poverty for the state of Massachusetts are found in in these three neighborhoods, where the child poverty rate is 42% (The Boston Foundation Indicators Project, 2012)
- Nationally, only 54% of 9-year-olds read daily for pleasure and that number drops to 30% for 13-year-olds. We know from research that children with higher reading skills have higher levels of success in school and in the workplace. (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2009.)
Lack of libraries:
- As of 2000, Massachusetts ranked 49th in the U.S. for the number of operating libraries in elementary and middle schools and 38th in staffing those libraries with state- certified school librarians (Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College)
- Of the 93 elementary and middle schools in the Boston Public School system, only 37 of them have some sort of library staff—part-time or full-time. Of those 37, only 9 are staffed by trained librarians. (Boston Public Schools)
Since 1983, the FCB has been building relationships with acclaimed authors and illustrators, as well as with children’s book professionals—school and public librarians, as well as teachers—from all over the state through our professional development conferences and events. We present half-day events called “What’s New in Children’s Books?” twice each year, so we are always up-to-date in our knowledge of multi-cultural books, as well as new authors and illustrators of note. Our Program Advisory Committee is made up of nine current and retired school librarians with a wealth of expertise in the world of children’s books and using great literature in the classroom. We also build strategic partnerships with other non-profits to maximize the impact of our work.