Even before I started school, I can remember my mother sitting between my sister and I reading stories to us. As we grew older, our set of 1957 World Book Encyclopedias seemed to complete our home library during essay writing and other homework.

The books were delivered to our home and my mother unpacked them one at a time from the large box.

Again, she sat down between us and showed us how to turn the pages properly without bending them. To this day, I think of her when I turn a page. During my teaching days, I also taught my students to respect books.

Obviously, I treasure books and value literacy. Over the years, I can see the value of early training in the home not only because of my own mother’s example but observing my classroom of young students’ aptitude, recognizing those who had advantages over other students. It was always important to me to reach out to the less fortunate and make sure they began the road to success along with their peers.

You can make a difference in a child’s life or even for an adult by planting the seed to give them confidence in reading. How can you do this?

The list below is very generic, extending beyond your home to the community. Seriously consider this list and if you are drawn to even one or two of these suggestions, follow up on it. Your local library and schools are in great need for volunteers to lead a person to success.

  • Read to a preschool class
  • Tutor a student in reading
  • Help someone work toward a GED certificate
  • Support a literacy organization
  • Give books to your local library
  • Give books to a veteran’s hospital
  • Donate books to a local school or preschool
  • Donate books to prisoners
  • Donate large print books/books on tape to a local nursing home
  • Conduct a book drive for underprivileged children
  • Organize a book drive in an organization or church for underprivileged children’s homes
  • Write a letter to the editor for the cause of literacy
  • Adopt a school or classroom to mentor students in reading
  • Record radio spots to promote literacy in your community
  • Teach English as a second language
  • Teach your own child/grandchild to read
  • Volunteer at your local library
  • Organize/participate in a book club
  • Help to organize a book club for young people
  • Volunteer to write a book column for your local newspaper
  • Help with your local library’s summer reading program
  • Sponsor/organize a community event focused on literature
  • Become involved with Friends of the Library (if your library doesn’t have a support group, start one)
  • Honor or memorialize a loved one with donation to your public library or school library
  • Encourage someone who has reading difficulty to get help
  • Play games with your children and or grandchildren to help increase letter identification, number recognition and eye-hand coordination (cards, Monopoly, dominoes, etc.)
  • Teach an adult to read
  • Train adults to teach reading

Additional information can be found with local Daughters of the American Revolution chapters to see where you can donate books or money to help underprivileged children.

The DAR Guilford Battle Chapter started a successful literacy project to donate books to individual children who never had books of their own. The books inspire and comfort a child who is misplaced. The chapter has also built 12 library collections in cottages at children’s homes. Generous financial donations from chapter members allowed the purchase of bookshelves, books and other supplies, along with book donations from members. The volunteers have delivered an estimated 2,600 selected and sorted books. A sign placed in each library is an invitation: “If you find a book you love, it is yours to keep.”

Guilford Battle Chapter plans to supply books on an ongoing basis to keep the libraries well-stocked and current, along with establishing new libraries.

Rachel Caldwell Chapter is also involved with this joint project.

A love for literacy can have early beginnings at home, or be introduced and shared later in life. I hope you will join me in continuing to look for opportunities to support and encourage readers of all ages in our communities.

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Etta Reid is an educator, historian and researcher. Contact her at etreid@aol.com.