Mission Statement

City’s First Readers, a New York City Council initiative coordinated by Literacy Inc., is a collaboration of nonprofit and libraries united to develop and deliver effective early childhood literacy programs.

We empower parents, teachers, caregivers and community institutions and offer the necessary tools to ensure that all children, regardless of their social economic backgrounds, have a solid foundation to start school successfully, thrive academically, and have the opportunity to succeed beyond their school years.

What We Do

Parent Engagement Workshops

Free early literacy workshops sponsored by the initiative help families establish a daily reading routine, and provide parents with fun and easy pre-reading literacy-building activities that can be done online or at home.

Early Childhood Literacy Programs

Organizations provide a wide range of activities and events for children from birth-five. Read alouds, play spaces, and supplemental reading activities allow families to experience literacy collectively, and model positive reading behaviors.


When young children are read to regularly, they are more likely to begin school with solid literacy skills. The initiative provides reading opportunities across New York City — in the home, libraries, doctor offices, parks, daycares, and local businesses.


Partner organizations distribute books, educational toys, and literacy kits. When families have the materials to create a home library, they can make reading part of their everyday lives.

Pediatric Visits and Interventions

One-on-one sessions with a coach during pediatric visits to promote shared reading and play through modeling positive reading and play behaviors. This approach reinforces strengths in parent-child interactions through the use of video-recording and self-reflection. In addition, books and other literacy experiences are provided in doctor’s waiting rooms.


One-on-one, regular home visits provide parents with knowledge, skills, and materials to build early literacy skills and prepare children for school success.


The City’s First Readers initiative helps families, caregivers, and community organizations form connections to each other and to the resources needed to help young children develop the literacy skills necessary for lifelong success. This network approach is crucial to long-term success.

Professional Development

Capacity building opportunities for educators, librarians, medical staff, literacy support staff or volunteers, and other adults.

Partner Organizations

City’s First Readers is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, coordinated by Literacy, Inc., that fosters the literacy development of children ages 0-5.

Our Impact

City’s First Readers has made a difference in the lives of nearly 4 million New Yorkers since it began in 2014.

It’s “Read the City!” public awareness campaign reached an additional 10,000 families.

New York City Council’s investment in City’s First Readers and “Read the City!” increased the depth, breadth, and quality of programs and services for children and families across New York City, particularly those living in under-resourced neighborhoods.

Overview of City’s First Readers




City’s First Readers has made a difference in the lives of almost 4 million children and caregivers since it began in 2014. And it’s “Read the City!” public awareness campaign collectively reached an estimated 15 million people across the five boroughs.

New York City Council’s investment in this early childhood intiative has resulted in a breadth of quality programs and services for children and families across New York City, particularly those living in under-resourced neighborhoods.

Literacy Opportunities

A total of 1.3 million children, parents, caregivers, and early childhood professionals were served by City’s First Readers in the program’s fifth year.

Families engaged with City’s First Readers at 463 sites in all five boroughs and every city council district across New York City.

Beyong traditional settings, City’s First Readers facilitated more than 200 community literacy events expanding access to books, resources, activities and literacy tips.

Building Energy and
Enthusiasm for Reading

During City’s First Readers fifth program year, parter organizations distributed 370,000 children’s books and over 62,000 early literacy kits which included age-appropriate books, resources, and literacy tips for parents and caregivers.

Read the City’s hyper-localized public awareness campaign reached an estimated 15 million families and educated families about literacy events in their communities.

Strengthening Literacy
Knowledge, Skills and Practices

More than 300 child and family daycare providers and early childhood educators had professional development or coaching to enhance their skills engaging with young people around literacy.

With the belief that parents are a child’s first teacher, City’s First Readers delivered education and coaching to nearly 2000 parents/caregivers so that these adults would feel comfortable and empowered to make literacy a regular part of their homes.