First Book is a nationwide non-profit organization with a simple mission: To provide new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy—access to books. First Book/Wasco County will be giving out book grants in the fall to literacy programs who serve children and youth from low-income families, and donations are needed so the Advisory Board can ask for applications and award book grants by September, according to Nancy Johanson Paul of First Books/Wasco County. The Advisory Board’s goal is to raise $3,000 by Aug. 31.

Through the First Book Marketplace in Washington D.C., new high quality, desirable books can be ordered for an average of $3 a book. The book grant recipients choose the books that the children and youth in their program will read, enjoy, and want to share with their family. Children and youth bring books home, encouraging reading as a family value.

First Book literacy programs stress the importance of reading in the home every day.

According to Children First of Oregon 2018 county data, Wasco County has a poverty level of 21.8 percent—sixty-five percent of students in Wasco County qualify for free or reduced lunch. The need is great for children and youth in Wasco County to have more access to books, Paul said.

“Both my parents read to children through the Kiwanis Club in Port Orchard, Washington,” said Paul. “They knew literacy was crucial in a child’s development and success at school.” Inspired by her parents, Paul has donated $1,000 to be used as matching funds to start First Book in Wasco County.

Donations can be sent to First Book/Wasco County, PO Box 82, The Dalles, Oregon 97058. To volunteer contact Nancy Johanson Paul at 541-490-5330 or email Donations can be made in honor or memory of a loved one—book stickers are placed in books before the child puts his or her own name in their new book. For more information on the national First Book literacy effort visit

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