As a graduate student, Rebecca Constantino studied the role of the school and community libraries in inner-city communities, and, later, the disparity of access to books in school libraries in the Los Angeles area. Instead of simply examining the problem, Constantino decided to work to eradicate it. In 1999, she had witnessed the affluent Brentwood Elementary School disposing of hundreds of unused books to make room for new ones while she knew Marian Anderson Elementary School’s library in Compton stood empty and in desperate need of new materials. Constantino transferred Brentwood’s unwanted books to Compton, and Access Books was born.
Prior to founding Access Books, Constantino was an education policy fellow for Sen. Paul Wellstone, and the first educator chosen to become a member of the American Political Science Association. She wrote numerous education and immigration bills, and also worked with the Department of Education on an analysis of “America Reads,” a program that aims to have every American child read well and independently by the end of the third grade.
Constantino has published a number of articles and books on literacy development, equality in education and cultural perspectives of language acquisition. Having lived and worked in numerous countries, she has been involved in language and literacy development programs in Russia, South Africa and Eastern Europe.
Currently, Constantino is an education consultant specializing in language acquisition, literacy development and cultural issues in schools. She teaches at the University of California, Irvine.
Reading was a salvation of sorts for Constantino who grew up in a low-income family in Reno, Nevada. Books helped her escape her impoverished situation, and later provided the foundation for her to receive a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the College of Idaho, a master of arts degree from the University of Nevada in Reno, and a doctorate degree in language, literacy and learning from the University of Southern California. She is a married mother of a son and two adopted daughters.
“Turning the tide on the dehumanization of language instruction”
“Teaching against the grain in bilingual education: Resistance in the classroom underlife”
“Differences in print environment for children in Beverly Hills, Compton and Watts”
“It’s like a lot of things in America: Immigrants’ understanding of the library”
“Literacy, access and libraries among the language minority population”
Give a Child a Book, She’ll be Happy
Give a Child a Library, She’ll be Literate
P.O. Box 64951, Los Angeles, CA 90064