Early Books for Me

Reading Is Fundamental pioneered providing free books and motivational programming to Austin’s youngest children through its Infant and Preschool Program. We’ve taken that model — proven to increase the motivation to read — and enhanced it with the coordination of supportive, hands-on motivational activities that support the child’s wide range of personal learning interests. Thus we’re proud to continue to offer this program as Early Books for Me.

Early Books for Me at BookSpring serves thousands of children in Austin each year in dozens of local Head Start centers, Austin ISD elementary schools, Austin public libraries, and other child development centers. These partners historically have a very high percentage of low socioeconomic status children. They and their families need the inspiration and support of high-quality reading materials that they can take home and make their own.

The Need

Children who do not have access to books and do not read regularly are vulnerable to a wide variety of adverse social outcomes. They are at risk for educational failure and lack the social support networks that help scaffold a child for success.

  • Sixty-one percent of low-income families have no age-appropriate books at all in their homes for their children. (Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study. 1996).
  • The average child growing up in a middle-class family has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading. (McQuillan, J., 1998. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions. Heinemann.)
  • There is a vocabulary advantage of reading picture books aloud over the spoken language directed to children and, therefore, the possibility of picture books accelerating and enhancing vocabulary development. (Massaro, D. Journal of Literacy Research: Two Different Communication Genres and Implications for Vocabulary Development and Learning to Read. 2015)

Child Inc- Girl reading Curious George

Our Approach

Early Books for Me at BookSpring provide “forever books” to Austin area children.

  • Children have the opportunity to choose and keep two books per year at no cost to them or their families.
  • Many books are displayed, allowing children to explore their interests and make their own choices.
  • Librarians, teachers, and volunteers motivate children to read with exciting literacy-related activities at each event.


The Early Books for Me programs put over 5,000 brand new books into the hands of children who might not otherwise have books of their own each year.

Contact Idali Reyes at idali@bookspring.org if you’d like to register your early childhood center for this program.

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