I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas is having a joyful day. For those of you who celebrate other holidays, I hope you’re able to spend today with your families. For all of our soldiers abroad, I wish you safety and peace.
Today, I’m sharing a few resources you can use to help children in your community read. As Audrey mentioned in her Book Club post, illiteracy rates are closely tied with crime rates. (And yes, I live in one of the least literate cities in the US—Aurora, CO—so my links will be to organizations in Colorado. This doesn’t mean that similar organizations don’t exist in your area! Thankfully, I spent many happy summer afternoons as a child at the Mission Viejo Public Library. Reading was an important part of my childhood, and it definitely followed me into adulthood.)
- Donate a Book or Monetary Gift to Your Local Library. At the Aurora Public Library, if you donate a book that they already have or don’t have shelf-space for, then they send it to a volunteer-run outlet store. The money made there is donated back into the library system to purchase more books and materials. Win/win!
- One Book 4 Colorado. A relatively new program, they vote on a book every year, and then give it away to libraries, schools, and literacy organizations. There are several books to vote for this year, and they include both English and Spanish versions.
- Reach Out and Read Colorado. This non-profit is a local chapter of the national Reach Out and Read organization. They promote literacy by suggesting books for infants and toddlers. They donate books to families through 220 local pediatrician’s clinics.
- Reading Partners. This program helps students from low-income families (up to fifth grade) become literate through after-school tutors in their classrooms. There are five programs in Denver and two in Aurora. In the third grade students transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Without this integral skill, many students fall behind and never realize their full potential. There are 10 other cities where this program is active. You do NOT have to have any experience to volunteer.
- Reading Buddy. Another program that pairs volunteers with students from 1-5 grade. They offer tutors during a summer scholars session and throughout the school year. They encourage teens to volunteer.
These are all organizations focused on helping children. If you know an adult who is illiterate, there are free programs to help them become literate too. Illiteracy can be a very shameful thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Reading opens doors. Even the smallest of doors like being able to order off a menu or sending an email to a loved one.
Spread the literacy this holiday season and throughout the year.