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Awareness and action

The program commemorated ten years of activity, matured the reading about its possibility of impact, and launched an innovative call for books

A visita and Com que roupa irei para a festa do rei? – Titles of the 2020 collection: 3.2 million copies distributed

On its 10th anniversary, the program Read to a Child demonstrates heightened maturity in the way it perceives the thematics to which it is dedicated, and has adopted innovative strategies for its activity. Its goal is to encourage adults to read to-and-with their child as an opportunity for strengthening the family bonds and participating in education. The program sees literature as playing an essential role in the construction of meanings in early childhood (0 to 6 years) and distributes children’s books free of charge to people who request them on the website and to children and family members in a situation of vulnerability, through partnerships with municipalities and civil society organizations. Besides offering versions of the books in braille, it offers audiovisual versions of works with accessibility resources.

The Read to a Child program is anchored in training initiatives and reading mediation actions. Enlightened by the dialogue with specialists and by listening to representative voices in the theme, the accumulated learning in recent years has guided the creation of the 2021 Read to a Child call for books, which invests exclusively in works of children’s literature focused on the valorization and protagonism of people and indigenous and black histories and/or cultures.

Call for books

In 2020, the Read to a Child program issued a call for the books of the 2021 edition to consider the representativity of the Afro-Brazilian and indigenous peoples, a key element for the development of reading skills in Brazilian children. By prioritizing narratives that dialogue with the realities of these children, in order to include notions of representativity and identity – which are essential in early childhood – the program reflects the learning that it has been ripening in recent years. It was constructed on the basis of interaction with representative voices in this thematics. An outstanding segment in this sense is the Jenipapos series, developed in partnership with MINA Comunicação e Arte, with the participation of researchers and authors who have contributed to enlarging the scope and action of the program in its movement for the inclusion of different representations, social diversities and cultural pluralities.

Focused Distribution

Partnerships with municipalities, civil society organizations and community libraries encourage quality reading in regions of highest social vulnerability. Taking into account the data on Brazilian social inequality and knowing for which child or family the delivery of the book should be prioritized is one of the things learned from the Read to a Child program – and one of the mainstays of its focused distribution. Each year, besides donating collections to individuals who make a request on the website, Itaú Social sends them to partner civil society organizations, community libraries and municipalities. This strategy also includes the municipalities that participate in the UNICEF Seal initiative, assessed as having high and very high vulnerability, according to the social vulnerability index (IVS), mainly in the North and Northeast regions.

Sending the books to partner organizations – notably to the municipalities that participate in the Improving Education program, which promotes continued training for public education professionals – has impacted not only on the quantity of books distributed, but also on the quality of their reading. A determining factor for developing reading skills in children in this age range, the quality of reading is emphasized and stimulated as part of the strategy of focused distribution. Together with the collections sent to public schools through municipalities and community libraries, a reading mediation guide is sent along with an invitation for the education professionals to take the Childhoods and Readings course, available at Polo, a training sector of Itaú Social. In 2020, a total of 40,449 participants were registered in Polo courses that deal with this theme.

Ten years of learning

In its first decade of permanent reflection and renewal, the program distributed 57 million copies of books free of charge. To these are added, now, another 3.2 million copies of the titles from the 2020 collection: A visita, a delicate book by German author and illustrator Antje Damm; and the very up to date Com que roupa irei para a festa do rei? in which the author Tino Freitas and the illustrator Ionit Zilberman revisit the celebrated story by Hans Christian Andersen. The year 2020 was also marked by the debut of the program Lugar de Livros [Place of Books], in partnership with TV Cultura, which each week brought themes, works and authors of children’s literature in a quick format, of only five minutes duration, in a language made for talking with the entire family.

Born to Read

Born to Read is a pilot project of an initiative that promotes reading to children from their first months to their last years of life and was inspired by the initiative of the same name, Nati per Leggere, created in Italy. In 2020, it found fertile ground in the region of Parelheiros, in the extreme south zone of the city of São Paulo. The community produced the book Nascidos para ler no melhor lugar para se nascer [Born to Read in the Best Place to Be Born], with coordination from the Instituto Brasileiro de Estudos e Apoio Comunitário (Ibeac) and from Instituto Emília, and support from Itaú Social. It is a book that contains photographs and texts for babies and small children, related to different expressions and situations (laughing, crying, throwing a tantrum, sleeping, breast-feeding, crawling). The photos and texts were shot and written by the reading community of the children that are born in Parelheiros. The initiative aims to empower the narratives about a territory from the children’s perspective. The idea is for the local stories to be told by the community, which creates a bridge between the discovery of the district, the sensation of belonging and the strengthening of a reading community. 

For the development of the content, about 60 people participated in online workshops concerning all the steps for a book’s production. The group of trainers relied on writer João Carrascoza and photographer Juliana Monteiro Carrascoza. The meetings about education were mediated by publisher Dolores Prades and by graphic artist Mayumi Okuyama. The reading mediation practices were facilitated by Ibeac educator and coordinator Bel Mayer, and by visual artist Valdirene Rocha. This painstaking collective work resulted in the first book for children in Parelheiros, with release slated for 2021. The project is also planned to include a digital exhibition of photographs produced in the process, workshops about reading mediation in early childhood for families, and monitoring of the reception and presence of the book in the families. The monitoring will be done by the mobilizing mothers and the reading mediators of Ibeac. In the project’s first phase, 4 thousand books were produced that will be distributed to newborns in Parelheiros and to children (up to the age of four) served by Ibeac.

In numbers

1,7 million

children, adolescents and young people benefited


municipalities reached


institutions supported


collections distributed


collections in braille or otherwise accessible


collections distributed to libraries

Associação Vaga Lume

Banco Itaú

Laboratório Emília de Formação

Civil society organizations

Education secretariats

Social Assistance Secretariats

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)