Opening books, opening minds, opening doors – Children’s Literacy Foundation

Imagine the joy of a child who never had the privilege of owning a book being able to choose new hardcover or paperback editions for free out of hundreds displayed in front of him. The Children’s Literacy Foundation doesn’t have to imagine. Staff have seen the excited smiles on these young faces for the past 23 years, and they hear the same question wherever they go.

“You mean I get to keep it? It’s mine?”

The Children’s Literacy Foundation of Vermont is on a mission to nurture a love of reading and writing in low-income Vermont and New Hampshire children who are at risk of growing up with poor literacy skills. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly two-thirds of low-income families don’t even have one book at home for their kids. CLiF places books in the hands of families like these and on the shelves of school or public libraries where books are old and funds are low, sends out local authors and illustrators like Caldecott and Siebert Honoree Jason Chin to present to everyone in town, and teaches parents how to make reading to their children exciting and fun.

Wherever there’s a need for books, CLiF is there. And CLiF is a model for others who want to help underserved children, schools, libraries and communities across the country.

The Children’s Literacy Foundation has donated $8 million worth of new books to 300,000 children in over 420 towns in New Hampshire and Vermont since Duncan McDougall founded the non-profit organization in 1998. McDougall left a successful career in management consulting for the chance to get out and captivate children and parents – to make them laugh and delight in great storytelling. And through it all he’s fulfilling the most important mission of all, and that is to raise children’s literacy so that underprivileged children have a greater chance for success.

Look for Free CLiF Resources for Parents, Schools, and Teachers, Including a Treasure Trove of Recorded Videos of Zoom Visits by Famous Local Authors:

Literacy Training Videos

Literacy Activities

Virtual Storytelling Series

Here is a sample of one of CLiF’s programs:

CLiF’s “Year of the Book” program provides $25,000 gifts to 10 rural elementary schools where at least 30 percent of the students test below grade level on reading and writing assessment tests. Children choose ten free books to take home from hundreds selected by teachers and librarians. Teachers select new children’s books for their classrooms and they receive mini-grants for literacy activities they’ve always wanted to undertake, and librarians can pick $1,000 worth of of new books each for the public and school libraries.

CLiF also provides 15-20 literary events through the year like writing workshops and visits by local authors and illustrators. Bethlehem (NH) Elementary School is a small school with a very tight budget. “There’s no way we would be able to do something like this,” said Principal Shelli Roberts.

The Children’s Literacy Foundation is headquartered in Waterbury, VT. For more information visit or email Duncan McDougall, Executive Director at CLiF’s phone number is (802) 244-0944.

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