Supporting Literacy Beyond a Pro Book Club

In my experience, people who are interested in book clubs tend to be advocates of reading in general, and professional development readers are no exception.

Starting your own pro book club via your workplace, local library, or even just among a group of like-minded friends is certainly one way to support literacy and promote continuing self-education. If you’re looking for a way to begin, check out my simple four-part guide to Pro Book Club Basics.

Beyond running your own reading group, however, there are other low-cost, high-value ways to promote literacy and share your love of reading, especially in your community and among children. Here are three of my favorites:

  • Start a Little Free Library, a free book exchange that usually takes the form of a small wooden box of books where people are encouraged to take a book or leave one to share with others. Building a Little Free Library is a wonderful way to connect your neighborhood around the love of reading. All Little Free Libraries are registered via the nonprofit’s website and mapped, so you can find out if there are any in your area. In October 2015, Little Free Library was honored by the Library of Congress for creating communities of literacy.
  • Another great way to support reading locally is to join your public library’s friends organization.  Library Friends typically advocate for their library by promoting awareness of the library’s services, running events such as summer reading programs, and raising money for the library.  In my local library, for example, the Friends organize regular book sales, run a small gift shop, recruit authors and speakers for library-sponsored events, and improve and beautify the building with equipment and art. Dues are usually $25 or less per individual, so this is a very economical way to support reading locally. And if you have time to volunteer, it’s also a great way to connect to your community. Contact your local library for information on its Friends group, or for more general information, check out United For Libraries Resources for Friends Groups, an extensive guide from the American Library Association.
  • Consider sparking a love of reading in our youngest friends by donating to an organization like First Book, a nonprofit that provides new books to children from low-income families. Literacy is one of the best predictors of a child’s future success, and one of the biggest barriers to childhood literacy is access to books. First Book aims to address this problem by giving millions of books to children in need, hopefully creating future readers and lifelong learners.
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