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Our vision is a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading.

To motivate young 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.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States. We prepare and motivate children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. We inspire children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice. RIF provides new, free books for children to choose from and make their own. The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them.

Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.

Planting seeds of inspiration in our nation’s most vulnerable children is what RIF and a network of more than 400,000 volunteers do. Whether in schools, homeless shelters, or community centers—wherever you find children—RIF volunteers spend countless hours distributing books, staging reading motivation activities, and promoting the importance of literacy in their communities.

RIF is generously supported by corporations, foundations, community organizations, and thousands of individuals. Your generosity is what allows us to fulfill our mission and positively impact the lives of our nation’s children and their families.

Our Impact

Magic happens when you give books to children: Eyes sparkle, smiles emerge, and imagination comes alive. That’s the mission embraced by RIF—to motivate children to have a lifelong, life-changing love of reading. This ignites a hunger for knowledge and a passion for learning. 

RIF's Frequently Asked Questions

Annual Reports

 Annual Reports

RIF's Annual Reports will bring a smile to your face because they contain stories, insights, and statistics that describe:

What RIF Does: Inspires children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice—choosing their own books.

Why RIF Matters
: Nearly two-thirds of low-income families own no books. RIF provides 15 million books each year to children who need them most. Without RIF, these kids would not have an opportunity to select and own books—a fundamental part of learning and discovering the joy of reading.


Our History

Our History

Margaret McNamara knew there was something special about giving children the power to make choices. But she didn't know her simple act of kindness—bringing a few used books to four boys she was tutoring—would start a reading revolution.

That was more than four decades ago.

When the former teacher told the children they could choose a book to keep as their own, their delight and astonishment led her to conclude that they, and other children, had never known the excitement of owning a brand new book. She knew it was extremely important to get more books into the hands of children who were learning to read but didn't have the resources. And she knew it was time to act.


Our Flagship Program

Our Flagship Program

Book ownership.
Motivational activities.
Family involvement in children's reading.

Books for Ownership combines three essential elements to create the cornerstone of RIF programs. We provide 15 million new, free books to 4 million children in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Our program reaches children of all ages in a variety of settings, including schools, community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, migrant communities, churches, hospitals, and health clinics.

About RIF