Early Childhood Support
nursery books

Early Childhood Programs

In 2001, Reading is Fundamental of Austin pioneered providing free books and motivational programming to Austin’s youngest children through its Reading is Fundamental 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 a wide range of personal learning interests for the child.

Early Childhood Programs at BookSpring serve 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 schools have a very high percentage of low socio-economic 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 negative social outcomes. They are at risk for educational failure, and lack the social support networks that help scaffold a child for success.

  • 61 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)

Our Approach

Early Childhood Programs 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 family.
  • 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.


Last year the Early Childhood programs in Austin put over 5,000 brand new books into the hands of children who might not otherwise have books of their own.