The New York Public Library To Distribute 15,000 Literacy Kits To Families In High-Needs Areas

Kits with both English and Spanish materials — including an original children’s board book featuring the iconic library lions — will be given to families at 10 NYPL locations


JUNE 4, 2015 —  The New York Public Library is distributing 15,000 free literacy kits to families at 10 branches located in high-needs communities.


The kits — designed by the Library and created with funding from the New York City Council’s First Readers Initiative — feature a variety of tools to involve both parents and children in the promotion of reading and early literacy, including a growth chart, literacy tip sheet, a guide to additional literacy resources across the city, and more.


The kit’s centerpiece is an original children’s board book called “ABC Read With Me In NYC” featuring illustrations by artist Antonio De Jesus. The book follows the Library’s signature lions as they learn classic nursery rhymes and explore New York City landmarks. With both English and Spanish translations, the book encourages parents to not only read with their children, but talk, sing, and play with them.


Additional literacy materials will also be available for download as the program continues at


Branches receiving the kits are Hunts Point, Kingsbridge, Grand Concourse, and Morrisania in The Bronx; Inwood, Hamilton Grange, and Countee Cullen in Manhattan; and St. George, West New Brighton, and Stapleton in Staten Island. Additional branches are slated to receive the kits later this year.


The kits build upon a strong foundation of literacy initiatives put in place by the Library, including:


  • Story Time: These programs give children and their parents/caregivers the opportunity to enjoy interactive stories and songs, and spend time with other children at their neighborhood branches. Demand for the Story Time programs has spiked 11 percent in the last two years; tickets are often given out to control crowds, and at some branches, waits are as long as 90 minutes.

  • Baby Lap Sit: With a similar format to Story Time, this program helps combat the “word gap,” referring to the 30 million gap between the number of words heard by low-income and wealthy children nationally by age 3 due to differing access to books, reading, and other language tools.

  • Summer reading: Launching in June, the Summer Reading Challenge urges kids and adults to commit to reading 20 minutes every day. This annual program helps fight the “summer slide” – if kids don’t read during the summer months they often lose many of the skills they learned during the previous school year.

  • OST (Out-of-School) Programs: The Library has several after school programs for children, including “Literacy Leaders,” which pairs an elementary school student with a high school student, who will tutor and mentor the younger student.

  • Outside partnerships for additional literacy programming, including Bilingual Birdies and Literacy Inc, are found out at branches throughout the system.


The literacy kits were generously funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, and the New York City Council.


Major support for after-school programming is provided by Arthur W. Koenig; the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Family Endowment for Young Audiences; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; the Mr. and Mrs. Timothy R. Barakett Endowment for Children’s and Young Adult Programs and Services; the E.H.A. Foundation Endowment for Literacy Programming; The New York Life Foundation; The Pinkerton Foundation; The Bok Family Foundation; News Corp; The Walt Disney Company; and an anonymous donor, with additional support from the Estate of Brooke Russell Astor and the Estate of Mary McConnell Bailey.

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