You don't have to be a parent, teacher, or librarian to encourage reading. As a volunteer, you can have a
tremendous impact, one child at a time.
This "Literacy Launcher" idea is just one of the basic,
straightforward ways you can promote literacy and make a difference in your community.
Tutor or read for one hour a week
It's not hard to find opportunities to volunteer. Check with
local libraries, preschools, daycares, and elementary schools. Some businesses have adopt-a-school programs
for their employees. Or go to a website like www.volunteermatch.com to find tutoring opportunities in your zip code. Don't be
surprised if the organization you wish to volunteer with asks you to fill out an application and undergo a criminal background
check – these are the times we live in.
If there isn't a formal program in place, suggest ways you can help. Children who are beginning readers,
for example, benefit greatly from the attention of a patient adult who will listen and encourage them as they hesitantly
read a book. You could also read with kids who finish their class work early, help run a reading incentive program
like Book It!, or sponsor a student book club.
Some organizations have well-structured programs for volunteers. The highly successful Book Buddies
program in Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, has published a manual to help other organizations use their method of
training volunteers to support kids' reading.
Educate and train yourself
It's important that you honor your commitment and show up to help the children you're volunteering with.
Pretty quickly, young kids will look forward to and count on your arrival. But you can do more. Take charge of your own
knowledge and training so you will become an especially effective volunteer. Many excellent resources on the Internet provide
information on tutoring, your role as a volunteer, and how you can help kids develop reading skills. Some suggested
places to start are listed below.
Click here to see more Literacy Launchers>>
Maybe you have other ideas for how to encourage reading in your community. If so, send
them to firstname.lastname@example.org.