Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Literacy Launchers
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Sounds and Symbols Sounds and Symbols
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Toddling Toward Reading Toddling Toward Reading

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 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.

Related links

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

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