Encouraging Literacy Through Public Service

By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington

Encouraging Literacy Through Public Service

Many parents work hard to find ways to teach their children to be good citizens and caring people, but with a little planning,  you can also foster your child’s interest in reading at the same time. If you volunteer as a family or are looking for opportunities to help worthwhile organizations in your community, here are a few ideas that may benefit your child.

Read in a sibling’s classroom.

If you have an elementary school student and a preschooler, talk with your preschooler’s teacher about having your older child read to his or her little brother’s or sister’s class. This is a great chance for both children to feel special and an opportunity for your older student to see how much younger children enjoy being read to.

Work with organizations to help low-income children.

Your child might be surprised to know how many children in the United States and around the world do not have access to books. Organizations like First Book (www.firstbook.org), a nonprofit that strives to provide books to schools and programs for children in low-income families, works in hundreds of communities across the U.S. You and your child can reach out to a First Book Advisory Board near you to find out how you can help. For other ideas, check with your local library.

Share your books.

Your child could get involved with BookCrossing (www.bookcrossing.com), a worldwide book sharing program. This program is a fun way for your child to celebrate literature by sharing and tracking books he or she no longer needs. Talk with your school or local library, too, for other ideas on how your family can share books you no longer want with organizations in need (or volunteer with those same organizations).

Start a book drive.

There are many great local and national organizations that strive to add to libraries’ inventories, give books to organizations in need (homeless shelters or nursing homes, for example) and get books into the hands of children. Check with schools and libraries in your area, and also check out organizations near you for ideas on how to start or get involved in a book drive. BooksEnds in California, Chicago Book Drive (www.chicagobookdrive.com) and Books4Cause (based in Chicago but serving the Midwest) are all great examples.

Volunteer at the library.

One of the best ways for students to serve their communities while gaining valuable exposure to books and literature is to volunteer at the library. Your public library likely has many opportunities for young students to get involved, such as read-aloud programs, children’s story times and other programs, special projects, shelf and display organizing, and materials sorting.

Look throughout your school and town for opportunities to help others enjoy reading and encourage your student to get involved. The more you can incorporate reading into your child’s daily life—both by having him or her read and fostering reading in your community—the better. Of course, while these are great activities, there is no substitute for frequent reading. If your child is struggling or could use targeted help, call Huntington. We can develop a customized learning program to help your child become a stronger reader, which will help him or her learn to enjoy this wonderful pastime. 


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