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What Concerned Citizens Can Do to Help All Children Read

By: U.S. Department of Education
From becoming a tutor to helping at the local library, there are concrete steps concerned citizens can take to help more children learn to read. Learn about these and more steps community members can take towards this goal.

There are many things concerned citizens can do to help kids become readers. You don't have to be a parent or a teacher to consider taking some of these steps:

  • Become a learning partner/reading tutor.

    Tutor a child in your neighborhood or from your local elementary school. Volunteer to read with or to a child for 30 minutes a week for at least eight weeks. Take the child to the library to get him or her a library card.

  • Start a community reading program.

    Volunteer to serve as a tutor or a community coordinator. Contact your local senior centers, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program office, Foster GrandParents Program, retirement homes, and other community groups to recruit tutors. Work with local schools to set up matches between community members and children.

  • Help at your local library.

    Offer to volunteer after school in the children's section, reading stories or helping children pick out books. Offer to develop a program or support an existing summer reading program at the library.

  • Encourage businesses and nonprofit organizations.

    Ask organizations to help support community reading programs. Establish contacts by visiting local businesses and organizations. Encourage them to donate supplies and to allow their employees time off to volunteer in local schools. Make sure the supplies they donate meet the needs of children who have special learning or physical challenges by including materials such as books in Braille, large-print texts, and books on tape.

  • Develop an international monthly program.

    Organize a program at your library, school, or community center in which seniors discuss their oral histories with children. Speak with local retirement homes and senior centers to enlist seniors who would be willing to tell children a highlight of their life stories. Arrange for a location where the program can be held, and advertise it.

  • Be supportive of efforts to meet high reading academic standards.

    Let your neighbors know the importance of reading. Make an effort to stay informed about your local school's reading programs and current issues.

Adapted from: Read*Write*Now!: Simple Things You Can Do to Help All Children Read Well and Independently by the End of Third Grade. (December, 1997). America Reads Challenge, Read*Write*Now! U.S. Department of Education.

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