A Winter Appeal


I am writing to you today because I need your help. Family Reading Partnership, like most nonprofits, is facing drastic increases in our expenses. From books, to rent, to health insurance for our team, the essentials are growing out of reach. This year I had to turn down requests for books and tell community partners that we could not participate in their events. I had to ask volunteers to put fewer books on their Bright Red Bookshelves. Again and again, we were unable to bring books to children who need them because we did not have the budget. You have made a gift to FRP in the past and I know that literacy matters to you! Will you please make a contribution to our $50,000 Winter Fundraiser by World Read Aloud Day on February 7, 2024? If you do not usually donate, this is the year we need you the most.

The “Science of Reading” debate is once again making headlines. This discussion comes back into popularity every few years, after each big study is released claiming to know how best to teach children to read. They are all missing the point. The research into how children learn has been screaming one very important lesson for decades: children learn how to learn through caring relationships and responsive interaction with their caregivers from before birth through age three. If we put the puzzle pieces together in that time, starting as early as possible, reading becomes a natural progression. It’s a skill that children can be prepared to acquire. How do we do that? 

Enter, The Nook! If you have had a conversation with me in the last year, you know that this amazing place is at the center of my orbit, and for good reason. Over 2,000 individual children and caregivers have made 5,087 visits to The Nook in the year since our opening! I am seeing parents get down on the floor and eat pretend concoctions created by imaginative little minds. They are sharing new words, from bird names to cooking instructions, and opportunities for conversation and learning abound. I was offered baklava by a 3-year-old last week—talk about vocabulary! And when playtime needs to end, those little hands go and pick out a special book to bring home. A story they will read cuddled up with a loved one, who will use that precious time to connect and talk with them. This is where reading comes from. Your gift provides the environment and the tools that parents need to be present, active caregivers who read to their babies.


We are a clever and nimble team, and we stretch every dollar as far as possible. Just two weeks ago my wife and I spent our Saturday morning climbing ladders to hang new “Read with me” banners on the façade of Northeast Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. We could not spare the funds to pay a professional. Our staff and volunteers purchase books with their own money and donate them to the organization. 

We provide over 20,000 books a year in Tompkins County. Our free programs gift a book to every child at their medical appointments, provide 7 local Story Walks, fill 50 Bright Red Bookshelves, welcome thousands of families to The Nook, and allow us to bring books to dozens of events each year. We accomplish all of that with three paid employees, including myself, and we do it for under $300,000 per year. Right now, it isn’t enough. We have exciting plans for expanding programs to better meet the needs of local families, but we cannot grow without your support. I am asking for your help to sustain this important work into the future. Will you make a donation today and help us to reach our $50,000 Winter Fundraiser goal by World Read Aloud Day on February 7th?

With gratitude,

Amber Smith
Executive Director
Family Reading Partnership