Team First Book Houston is a volunteer board working as a team since 2013 under First Book, an international literacy non-profit in Washington, D.C. First Book provides books, educational resources, and supplies to students in low-income areas.


  • Our mission is to dedicate our focus and hard work to provide "Literacy for All Students" ©2017 starting in low-income schools in the Greater Houston area.
  • We have developed a pilot program, "Literacy for All Students" ©2017 at Houston ISD's Neff Early Learning Center in the Sharpstown area of Houston, Texas. This incredibly impactful program will be implemented in more schools to serve even more of "our" children in need. 

Pictured: Pre-Kindergarten students of Neff Early Learning Center; (L-R) Sheila Armstrong, Houston Team First Book Chair; Molly Maria Flynn Vilaseca, Houston ISD Board Member; Cynthia Cisneros, abc Channel 13 Vice President of Community Affairs; Erik Barajas, abc Channel 13 Eyewitness News Reporter and Anchor; Grettel Monge, Neff ELC Teacher; Principal Gerardo Leal, Ed. D., Neff ELC Principal

Team First Book Houston donates 100% of all funds raised to purchase brand new books and supplies for Neff Early Learning Center and other schools. The need is great now because some of the books that were previously distributed have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.


  • We are focused on helping families in low-income areas who need to learn to read and speak English. We distribute these new books to children's hospitals, women's centers, and schools in Houston ISD as well as other school districts in the Greater Houston area.
  • Our students are 4 years of age to seniors in high school and they pledge to read to others and teach others to read. We record and maintain data collected through reading assessments and teacher feedback to track how our students are progressing. This data is proving that "our" students are making verifiable progress.
  • Since 2013, our team and partners have been able to obtain, sort and distribute $ 995,650 worth of books, retail value. We anticipate going over $1 million by May 2018.
  • Some of the first grade students at Neff Early Learning Center's reading scores are the highest for first grade students in Houston ISD. Data is so important to keep track of student progress. 

    The data collected from this pilot program for students in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First grades is proving that "Literacy for All Students" ©2017 is working.  38% of Houston children 5 years and younger live in poverty and that percentage have grown since Harvey.
  • Why We Do What We Do


    • A 7 year-old student in the 1st grade was asked what would he do now that he could take home his brand new books? 

      "I am a good reader now, but now I will become a great reader."  

      When he was asked, "what is your goal?" 

      "My goal is to become a heart doctor. I will fix people's hearts so they will feel good. And when they feel good, they will do good for others."  

      This is why our volunteers and partners work so hard.
    • Our students are traumatized by Harvey.  One students says he puts his books by the front door in plastic sacks so he will grab them when it starts to rain.

      These books are going to be the first thing they can call their own since Hurricane Harvey.  
    • Our Students Accept Their Responsibility


      Our students say the following "Promise" every morning and evening after they finish brushing their teeth. They put their right hand over their heart, look in the mirror, and say out loud:

      "I am smart.  I am important. I read to others. And I teach others to read. I promise."

    • Here is our 17-minute documentary, "Eradicating Illiteracy, 2015." 

      Team First Book Houston, the staff and students of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication of the University of Houston have won 3 GOLD REMI AWARDS from the WorldFest International Film Festival. At the April 2017 Gala, there were attendees from 74 different countries with over 4,500 submissions! 

      DISNEY used this short documentary as part of their National Reading Campaign!

    Due to Hurricane Harvey, many children lost their home libraries.  If we are successful with our fundraising, this may be a project for our club to consider.


Team First Book Houston works with many partners: First Book, Washington D.C.; Channel 13 abc; DISNEY; Richard Carranza, Superintendent of Houston ISD; Bill Palko, Rotary District Governor of 5890 with 62 Rotary Clubs, including Sharpstown, Houston, and North Shore, as well as other Rotary Clubs and Rotarians. 


We work with the students and faculty of the University of Houston's Jack J. Valenti School of Communication to create award-winning documentaries. 


  • The purpose of our documentaries is to inspire viewers from all over the world to give of their talents and time plus donations  to make "Literacy for All Students"  happen now!
  • Our documentaries capture the excitement of students receiving their new books while highlighting the importance of community, partnership, volunteerism, and literacy. 


We work with several other partners who are also determined to provide "Literacy for All Students" ©2017, including the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, Home Depot, T. J. MAXX, Frost Bank, Kroger, Office Depot, GoDaddy, M Squared Climate Control (Michael Milton, Patrick Milton, Sr., and Marc Hall), Jon King, "After Hours Networking," and many others!