ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Around Arlington, she’s known as the “Pajama Mama,” often times wearing a onesie, driving a bright purple “book bus” across the county. It’s all a part of Jennifer Sauter-Price’s mission to get young children to begin reading at an early age.

According to Scholastic, the average child in a middle-class family has been exposed to at least 1,000-1,700 hours of picture book reading, while those who grow up in a low-income family have only been exposed to roughly 25 hours.

Arlington mother Sauter-Price is aiming to lessen that divide by distributing books out of her mobile library to kids in low-income households.

“We get brand new board books out every month to little ones who do not have them in the home,” said Sauter-Price.

The “Pajama Mama” is the founder of non-profit R.E.A.D, which stands for “read early, and daily”. The book bus was purchased with a $50,000 dollar grant to further promote equitable reading opportunities in the county.

“When I started doing book fairs, it became very evident that not every child was able to buy a book,” said Sauter-Price. “My passion became putting books into the hands of these children.”

Donning her best, brightly-colored pajamas, Sauter-Price distributes the books selected by the families each month. She says allowing the children and their families to select the books themselves empowers them.

R.E.A.D. focuses on collecting and distributing what Sauter-Price calls “mirror-window books,” which reflect who the children are, as well as being able to see the community around them in the literature.

“We’re really trying to make sure the books we are offering are reflective — that they’re mirrors, they see themselves in the stories,” said Sauter-Price. “Mirror-window books build affirmation and empathy.”

The program is funded through book fairs, as well as community donations from residents and parents who previously enrolled their child in the program. Sauter-Price recalls one instance at a book fair where a woman placed five dollars in her hand.

“Her daughter had participated as a toddler in our programming. She said, ‘I want to make sure other children get to benefit like we did,'” said Sauter-Price.

R.E.A.D. has nearly 200 families involved in their programs, but Sauter-Price says her ultimate hope is to have Arlington families come to her for new books before shopping online.

As for what’s next, R.E.A.D is partnering with the Virginia Hospital Center’s outpatient clinic to provide uninsured, expecting mothers with bags that contain five board books. The partnership will provide reading materials to 600 mothers per year.

It takes long hours and a lot of work to run the book bus, with shelves of inventory lining Sauter-Price’s basement and front porch. But it’s a labor of love — one that Sauter-Price says was something she was called to do.

“Every child deserves to have a great start. I have the capability, and all the resources, and the community support, so why not me?,” she said.

To learn more about R.E.A.D. or to sign up for their programming, visit their website.