As a grandparent, you can be a role model for reading. You can also be a role model for giving. I suggest you combine the two by finding a way for you and your grandchild to help promote literacy on a local or global basis. Children benefit greatly from experiencing the joy associated with giving and from understanding that they can be a force for good in this world. Take inspiration from Tikun Olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world one good deed at a time. I’ve included a sampling of worthwhile organizations who strive to break the barriers that impede literacy in the United States and beyond. Visit their websites to get details on how you can get involved or donate to their efforts.
Bernie’s Book Bank A grassroots organization started in its founder’s garage in 2009, as of 2013, they have distributed 1 MILLION books in the Chicago area. Their stated mission is to facilitate the collection, processing and redistribution of new and gently used children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland.
They will happily set up a special volunteer opportunity for groups of four or more. Your grandchildren can help you sort, sticker and bag collections of books.
Visit Facebook with your grandchild to read about 10-year-old Ally and 8-year-old Ryan, the inspiring sister and brother who are trying to collect one million books for this cause. Follow their progress at One Million Books.
Israeli Book Buddies Sponsored by JUF, a gift of $18.00 will provide a deserving child with a yearlong subscription to Pajama Library. The recipients are preschoolers who are part of the underserved immigrant populations.
Consider sending a subscription in honor of the young reader in your life. Perhaps your grandchild has already set aside some money with the intention of making a contribution to a worthy cause. You might want to match it and donate together in celebration of Israel’s 65th birthday!
Reading is Fundamental (RIF) I found these two sentences on their website to be succinct and powerful: Most kids living in poverty have no books at home. Help change their world with books.
A monetary gift will help provide free books and literary resources to the children who need them. Again, this could be done in honor of a reading milestone your grandchild has achieved or her birthday or be a joint venture for the two of you. A donation of $10.00 can buy 4 books.
RIF sponsors various book events, read-alouds, and reading activities, some of which are appropriate for grandparents and grandchildren.
Their website is definitely worth a visit; it offers a wealth of support and information about reading and children.
LitWorld is a wonderful organization headed by Pam Allyn, who writes and speaks movingly and effectively about the power of word and stories and promotes global literacy. Huffpost features her blog and here is a post that perfectly captures the beauty of reading aloud to children: Share the Gift of Story on World Read Aloud Day. LitWorld established World Read Aloud Day, Boys’ LitClub, Girls’ LitClub, LitCamp, Stand Up for Girls Campaign and The Lit! Project for Solar Reading Powers. Their website features various blogs for all these activities and different ways that you can be involved.
The Lit! Project provides solar lanterns to students without electricity, replacing unhealthy kerosene lamps in their homes. Just $10.00 can purchase a lantern.
Reach Out and Read This organization is able to make a difference in young children’s lives. Pediatric medical providers are trained to furnish literacy advice to parents and are provided with books to distribute to needy families at designated program sites. For some children, this is an opportunity to receive their first book. Visit their website to find out about upcoming events, learn how you can get involved and get information about early literacy.
To help create an inviting reading corner in a pediatric waiting room, you can donate a bookcase, child-sized furniture, a storytime rug, gently-used books, and children’s or parenting magazines. Is your grandchild an art or photography student? Are you artistic? You can create a mural, artwork or a photograph featuring literary themes or characters.
First Book partners with publishers to provide access to new books for children in need. Check out their website to learn about virtual book drives, diverse fundraising suggestions and donation opportunities. A $10.00 donation translates into 4 new books for those children who are eligible.
You can set up a First Book personal fundraising page for a special occasion if you want to make a difference instead of accumulating more stuff. This is a great idea for a first birthday, for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or middle school/high school community service project.
Are there any literacy organizations that you would recommend? What do you do with your no-longer-needed-but-still-in-good-condition books?
You might also enjoy:
- There’s a New Library in Town
- Of Books, Women and Prisons
- Curt’s Cafe: Serving Up Hope and Opportunity