Welcome to Reading Nation Waterfall

Our mission

Reading Nation Waterfall is a three year, $1.4 million IMLS funded project focused on increasing access to literacy and libraries for Native American children across the country.

Our name represents an aspirational and resolute metaphor for the vision and desired outcomes of our project. As waterfalls tirelessly carry pure water that turn into streams and rivers bringing the nutrients for life to flourish, we hope to do the same for tribal communities by saturating the daily ecosystem of children and families with carefully selected books for children and their caregivers and information about culturally relevant programs and resources at their local libraries.

Project Goals and Outcomes

Our three primary goals are to increase:

  1. Access to books and libraries to children and families,
  2. The number of books and overall reading with parents/adults at home, and
  3. The relevance and use of libraries for Native American communities.

Two of our primary outcomes are to increase kindergarten entrance and 4th grade reading scores for each partnering tribe. One of our main activities is to provide an unlimited number of free books to children from 0-10 at preschool, elementary school, and their public libraries through strategically placed little free libraries that will be restocked with brand new and gently used librarian- curated books every week.

Total Books Disseminated

Tribal PartnerTotal Disseminated To Date
(as of June 25, 2024)
The Eastern Band of Cherokee6521
Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina10416
Northern Cheyenne Tribe4086
Santo Domingo Pueblo11593
Yurok Tribe441
The Crow Tribe of Montana1547

Quotes from National Indian Head Start Directors Association

“Growing up in a Tribal home you experience the benefits of family members telling you stories of how things happened, for example, ‘How the skunk got his tail‘ or ‘Why the possum plays dead‘. Tribal people know the benefits of storytelling to the young children in close proximity (sitting on grandma’s lap). We appreciate the efforts of UNC Greensboro in recognizing the benefits of reading to young children and wanting to get books into Tribal homes. We hope that this is only the beginning and in the future more Tribal programs will get the benefits of reading to children.”

Tina Routh, President, National Indian Head Start Directors Association

“Books, especially those which encourage young children to read with their families, promote their engagement, curiosity and natural desire to learn and hear about something new. Children will automatically engage with books that are relevant to their world, and which they have immediate access to. The receipt of this grant will put more books in children’s hands, and therefore more opportunities for families to engage with each other and promote learning in our Native cultures and environments.”

Jo Williams, Zone 5 Representative, National Indian Head Start Directors Association