Building Equitable Access to
United Through Reading

United Through Reading is committed to an inclusive culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates the voices of the military and Veteran families we serve, our volunteers, board members, and staff, regardless of their race, gender, age, religion, identity, or experience.

United Through Reading is proud to offer books that tell the stories of historically marginalized groups and underserved communities. See our full list of diverse books here.

Our services are available to military members and their families of all ranks and in any duty status, as well as to Veterans and their families.

United Through Reading understands that we have more work to do to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across our community and nation. We are invested in moving our organization forward to provide equitable access to books and connections through reading for all military and Veterans while continuing to build a diverse and inclusive team to serve those families.

"I love that there is so much diversity within the (UTR book) collection. Thank you for all that you do."
-Coretta Yeadon, Air Force Spouse

Why We're Committed to Diverse Books

Diverse children's books reflect our military families and our nation, and that’s why United Through Reading has always included them in our library for parents to choose the best book for their family. Just like going to a bookstore or library, we want our military-connected families to have a variety of books to choose from for the best possible read-aloud experience. 

Books, especially for children, can be mirrors that reflect aspects of their identity, like their race, culture, gender, and experience. But they can also be windows into other worlds and other people’s experiences that help children understand the world around them. Books transport us into their world, and by having diverse books, children enter other worlds and develop even greater empathy for others.

For children to thrive in a diverse world, they need access to a wide array of books that both reflect themselves and allow them to immerse themselves in others’ experiences. A recent pilot study released by First Book underscores this need – the study indicates that students’ reading scores increased 3 points higher than the expected average yearly gain after diverse books were added to their classrooms. At a time when reading scores are down nationwide, increasing access to diverse books is just one way to begin to help our children make gains in reading, a foundation for all learning.

Our military is an institution celebrated for its diversity, and its diversity is its strength. This strength does not rest solely on the shoulders of our service members but is bolstered by the shared service of their families who relocate at the demands and location needs of the military. This mobile military lifestyle can pose significant challenges for families, and recent conversations about access to diverse books often overlook our military families. 

Military children can move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school. While moving is stressful enough, these families sometimes find themselves in new communities without sufficiently diverse books in their public schools and libraries. A lack of diverse books could imply an unwelcoming climate in their new community, impressions that are directly impacting retention of military families. Nearly a third of relocating military families reported in a recent survey that they turned down a military assignment, even if it had the potential to hurt their career or meant separating from the military, over concerns about the racial climate at their next installation.

At United Through Reading, we see firsthand the positive impact of diverse children’s books on military families. Books with diverse characters are often the first chosen by military parents for their children, and those parents have told us they appreciate the diversity in our book collection.

We’re proud to be a Diverse Books for All Coalition’s member organization that is singularly focused on serving the needs of military connected children, promoting access to high-quality children's books by and about diverse cultures, races, identities, and abilities.

We intentionally seek out and offer diverse books to military families – more than 40 percent of the books we offer – always free to military families -- feature an author, illustrator, or main character from a diverse background. 

By prioritizing diverse books, we nurture a more inclusive, empathetic, and understanding society. This benefits our military families and reflects the broader American ethos that cherishes freedom, diversity, and inclusivity.

And by participating in United Through Reading’s programs and services, or supporting us with a gift, you join us in ensuring all voices are heard, all experiences are recognized, and every child sees themselves reflected in the books they read.