Improving Literacy Starts With a Story: First Book and the Tata Group of Companies Join To Celebrate and Inspire Reading

Jan 16, 2024 10:15 AM ET

Tata Sons North America and First Book, the largest online network of educators serving children in need, have been working together since 2008 to eliminate existing barriers to education. Over the last 15 years of this partnership, they have distributed about 600,000 books to educators serving kids in need.

When Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and other Tata group companies team up with nonprofit First Book to celebrate reading and get books to K-12 students who need them, it’s with a single intention. They’re partnering to establish a foundation for future student success.

Recently TCS and other Tata Group volunteers joined up with First Book in Philadelphia and Atlanta to read books aloud to K-5 students. The events were opportunities for Tata professionals to serve as mentors and role models and encourage a love of reading. The company is now planning additional celebrations of reading across the U.S.

“TCS volunteers see reading to K-12 students as a high priority because it enables them to explore their sense of purpose,” said Lina Klebanov, head of TCS’ Corporate Social Responsibility programs in North America. “In looking to ensure young people are connected to opportunities in the digital economy and the 21stcentury workforce, TCS volunteers know their efforts are impactful, especially in how they can instill curiosity, which is a key pillar of learning and innovation.” 

As technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) advance rapidly, TCS believes in preparing students for future careers that may not even exist yet.

“Today’s students will need exceptional capabilities in design and computational thinking to meet the needs of the not-so-far-off future,” said Klebanov. “However, it all starts with the basics. They must be motivated to read.” 

The Tata group of companies regularly supports First Book and its mission. In spring 2023, the Tata group took this partnership with the nonprofit to the street with a “Truck of Books” event held at Jaguar Land Rover headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey. The event drew educators, librarians and other supporters of children’s learning from across New York and New Jersey and resulted in the distribution of 37,000 books to over 200 educators in the tristate area. Additionally, earlier in the spring, TCS’ Tech4HOPE program resulted in about $31,000 worth of pro bono IT consulting to support advancements in First Book’s data governance efforts.

"Since the founding of our group, we have upheld the commitment of giving back to the community," said Michael McCabe, Resident Director, Tata Sons North America. "We are proud to continue to build on that commitment and share the power of reading with students across the country. Our longstanding partnership with First Book, supported by numerous Tata volunteers, continues to have a positive impact on educators and students across North America."

Now is an important time to focus on books. Think Impact’s recent report on literacy reveals that 21% of adults in the U.S. are illiterate in 2023, and 54% of adults have below a 6th grade literacy level. Think Impact further states that low levels of literacy cost the U.S. up to $2.2 trillion per year.

The need for reading was also highlighted by the results of the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) most recent long-term trend reading and mathematics assessment. The report dealt Americans an unwelcome surprise this year with scores declining yet again, indicating literacy and numeracy may be at risk in some U.S. communities. The test, administered to 13-year-old students from October to December of the 2022–23 school year, revealed that the average scores for 13-year-olds had declined four points in reading and nine points in math compared to the previous assessment conducted in the 2019–20 school year. A decade ago, the average scores had declined even more: seven points in reading and 14 points in math.

First Book and companies like TCS are eager to help turn that around. For more information, visit and