Why we're donating $100,000 worth of children's books

  • by Teigan Margetts

Like most companies, 2020 was a whirlwind year for us. Just a few weeks before the world went into lockdown, we decided to launch our little book business. We were two parents with a big dream, and that dream was to help little ones to make a difference in the world and specifically, help Earth become that bit more sustainable and equitable. We knew that books were the answer because the question was: if not books, then what? Our beautiful planet certainly didn’t need more plastic toys and our little ones certainly didn’t need more screen time. 

20,000 + books, a new and fast-growing US warehouse, and hundreds of five-star reviews later, we’re really excited that we’ve been able to inspire some little ones to do big things. But it’s not enough and you know why? Because we believe in the power of all little ones, not just the ones whose parents and grandparents are lucky enough to be able to buy them books. And right now, we know that so many little ones in the US are struggling. For that reason, we’ve decided to donate $100,000 worth of books. Here’s exactly why: 

Poverty increasing, education interrupted as the COVID crisis continues 

COVID has both united us all in a shared struggle, and similarly made us feel like we’re all worlds apart.  Here in Melbourne, Australia, where Ethicool is headquartered, we’ve had our fair share of COVID pain, including one of the world’s longest and harshest lockdowns. But to be fair, it looks like it’s nothing compared to what the US is experiencing. We’re sending hugs to the hundreds of thousands of little ones whose grandma or grandpa is now gently watching them from the moon, way before they should be. 

From an equality perspective, it appears as if the US has been hit particularly hard. It breaks our heart to see that the pandemic has plunged six million more Americans into poverty, on top of the millions who were already struggling. As with any crisis, the pandemic also seems to have deepened other inequalities, with women and also BIPOC individuals disproportionately affected. 

Of course, little ones have also seen their worlds turned upside down. Many would assume that with children stuck at home, there would be ample time for reading, but for many families, this hasn’t been the case. Early years education has been severely interrupted, especially for less well-off families who may not have had access to digital devices. What this means is that there are likely thousands, if not millions, of children who may not have had the chance to learn to read this year and gain vital early literacy skills. 

Early literacy a key contributor to future success

Here at Ethicool, we’re not suggesting for a second that there aren't deep structural inequalities that hinder certain people’s ability to succeed. But to overcome those, each and every person needs to be equipped with the best chance to succeed, and early literacy is a key part of making this happen. 

If you’ve heard the phrase “readers become leaders,” know that it’s true. Children who are competent readers and love doing it achieve better academic results at school - and go on to achieve more in life, as well. Reading improves brain connectivity, and those who read often are more intelligent, empathetic and creative, so much so that avid reading is considered one of the most important traits that are scientifically proven to predict future success. 

Yet when it comes to reading, not all little ones are receiving the same start in life and that is something that we, here at Ethicool, really want to help with. 

Before children learn the alphabet, they acquire fundamental language skills (otherwise known as early literacy skills) through interacting with the world around them, and of course, being read to by a loved one in their life. Reading makes a huge difference, so much so that by the time a little one reaches preschool, if they haven’t been read to they may have up to a million word gap in their vocabulary. Children with a larger vocabulary find it easier to learn how to read. However, those who are never read to and miss out on these vital early literacy skills often find it hard to catch up, and are more likely to repeat a grade and even drop out of school early.

Not ‘Just A’ anything 

In a time where so many children and families are struggling, we wanted to not only assist with early literacy, but also give little ones the all-important message that they are important, worthy, and that they can and should reach for the stars, regardless of their circumstances. For this reason, we’ve chosen a very special book to donate - our bestseller, Just a Rabbit. 

Just a Rabbit is a stunningly illustrated and beautifully poignant story about a rabbit who wanted to see the moon. Along his journey, many animals tell the rabbit that he can’t see the moon because he’s ‘just a’ rabbit. But in the end of the story, he devises a clever plan to ensure that not just he sees the moon, but everyone sees it. The story is a touching reminder that if we all work together, we can achieve great things. 

It’s also a story about lifting others up, which is exactly what we’re hoping to achieve with our donation. 

Looking for a partner? 

While thousands of our books have now happily found themselves at the homes of little ones throughout the US, we haven’t yet found a charity partner for our books - but we know they’re out there! We’re looking for a charity who shares our mission to make the world a more equal place and can help distribute our books to those who will benefit from them most. 

Know anyone? Email hello@ethicoolbooks.com. We can’t wait to see our books in the hands of even more little ones who we know will go on to do great things.
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