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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The First Spouses of Governors from across the country recently joined forces with Reading Is Fundamental, the largest childhood literacy nonprofit in the U.S. working to raise awareness of childhood literacy.

The First Spouses highlighted the inspirational power of books through the reading of “Nobody Owns the Sky,” a book by Reeve Lindbergh telling the story of Bessie Coleman, the first licensed African-American female aviator.

“There is one book for every 300 children living in poverty,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. RIF delivers free books and literacy resources to underserved children from birth to age 8.

Rasco continued, “These first spouses are shining a spotlight on the need to reach every child in the nation with the power of books.”

The reading, in honor of Black History Month, was held Feb. 24, 2012, at the Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter Schools (CAPS) – Butler Campus in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the reading, RIF donated a Multicultural Book Collection, featuring 45 high quality children’s books, including the featured book, to the school.

In the United States, poverty levels have hit a record high of 46 million and there are millions of children still in need of literary resources.

Studies show that:

       61 percent of low-income families in the U.S. have no books in their homes;

       80 percent of preschools and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children; and,

       23 percent of public school 4th graders score below basic levels on reading exams.

“There is no better way to improve the reading achievement – and future success – of low-income children than increasing their access to books,” added Rasco. “The support of these first spouses is coming at such a critical time in the conversation around childhood literacy. The more voices we can add to this fight, the better off we’ll be as parents, as educators, as employers and – ultimately – as a nation.”

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: RIF media release)