This is the kind of story we write together.

For 21 years, Make Way for Books has worked to ensure that our youngest children have the early literacy and learning opportunities they need to thrive in school and beyond. With your support, we worked to build children’s literacy and language skills, to inspire and connect educators, to empower parents as their children’s first, most essential teachers, and ultimately to build the kind of community where children can reach their full potential.

Thank you for making it all possible.

We listen to our community and innovate continuously to truly understand and meet the needs of young children, families, and educators. We leveraged technology to support families anytime, anywhere through our Make Way for Books App. The app is a bilingual tool that helps parents and caregivers build their child's brain and get them ready for success in school and beyond. In 2018-19, we launched a new version of the app which now includes electronic books and in-book tips, educational videos, and activities to help families support their children's early learning. Through collaboration with local artists and illustrators, we have created free and diverse books for families to share directly on a phone or tablet anytime, anywhere. In partnership with our local libraries, the app connects families with great books they can check out at the library. We've integrated robust literacy activities, in-book tips, and videos to help families support their children's early literacy and language development.

To celebrate the re-release of the app, we held a special launch party. Check it out below:

Partnering with parents

Through our Family Education and Literacy strategies, young children and families without access to quality early education learn together in a positive group environment with other families.

In 2018-19, we launched Story School, a two-generation approach where children and families learn together and both gain skills. Families joined alongside one another to share books, connect, and learn. Children were immersed in shared reading while parents gained skills and confidence. Families connected around the books and were empowered to share their challenges, their successes, and their stories together.

"I really just love this program, that’s why I came back and that’s why I suggest it to everybody. I love the songs and I love the interaction with the stories. I just notice it’s made the difference with my oldest daughter learning to love to read and helping her in the classroom environment, knowing to sit down and pay attention. I think that’s another skill a lot of kids don’t get if they’re not in this type of environment," shared a participating parent.

96% of children in Make Way for Books Family Education and Literacy programs gained vocabulary skills. And, 82% of children gained social emotional skills.

Cuéntame Collaborative

Launched in 2018, our Cuéntame Collaborative provides multiple strategies to ensure young children have quality early literacy and learning experiences in home-based care settings as well as with their families. Through books and stories, Cuéntame builds community among participants and affirms their roles as learners and teachers. We intentionally select and share books to elicit meaningful collective inquiry, to foster connection and community, and to connect children, families, and educators in a positive, welcoming, and culturally-responsive environment.

A participating parent shared, “I was looking for a way to support [my children’s] education, but I also wanted a community. That’s what I’ve found here…I know that I have a story, too, that I can share with my children.”

Empowering educators

Through The Story Project, we work to ensure young children have access to literacy and language-rich environments in the classroom as well as at home.

We worked to inspire, connect, and empower educators working in a variety of early education settings. Through one-on-one coaching and professional development workshops provided throughout the year, educators gained skills, strategies, confidence, and resources to support the literacy and language development of the young children in their care. We worked closely with educators to provide high-quality books for children’s classrooms as well as lending libraries that allow families to share books together at home.

An educator shared, “Our students have developed a love and passion for reading. Reading has become a habit in our classroom and many parents have stated that it has become a ritual at home before bedtime. Furthermore, many preschool families have created a personal library at home. We are very appreciative to Make Way for Books for our classroom having access to the wonder of books for learning and enjoyment."

95% of educators feel more connected to their professional peers and the early childhood community as a result of participating in The Story Project.

“I learned that I am not alone... I have resources to help me and the children," an educator shared. "Make Way for Books has given us so many ideas and has given us the opportunity to share with our colleagues and put what we learn into practice."

Creating long-term impact

We continue to demonstrate long-term impact. Based on a sample of children who participated in Make Way for Books programs in their Pre-K years, 75% went on to score at or above benchmarks in reading assessments in kindergarten, first, second, and third grades.

The impact of this work is being recognized in communities throughout southern Arizona as we are expanding programming to Maricopa County in 2019.

Creating access to books

Creating access to books is necessary to build the skills children need to become thriving readers.

Last year, we provided 44,213 quality books to children’s classrooms and homes. And, nearly 30,000 books were checked out from our lending libraries.

Last year's impact was only possible because of the generous support of our community. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to making Arizona a place where young children can thrive.

We can only achieve our mission thanks to the support of our volunteers. Last year, more than 300 volunteers dedicated their time to reading to children, creating resources for teachers and families, delivering books, and more. Thank you to each and every one of our talented and passionate volunteers!

“When I go to the sites where I deliver and the children see me wheel in my cart with books, they are right behind me waiting to pick out a book from the blue bookshelf, so this is definitely used by the community. The children and their parents know the books will be replenished if the shelves are empty and this is important so they can build a library of their own at home,” shared Kathy Naylor, a long-time volunteer at Make Way for Books.

Thanks to our committed Board of Directors for dedicating their time, talent, and treasure throughout the year to help us achieve our mission.

Last year, we provided proven programming to ensure thousands of young children have the early literacy and learning opportunities they deserve.

This work is powered by community. Thank you for being part of it.