Friday, April 11, 2014

A Place for Literacy Volunteerism at the Library and Museum

A Place for Literacy Volunteerism at the Library and Museum 
By Susan H. Hildreth Director, IMLS
IMLS Up Next Blog: Posted on by mheintz

I’m delighted to join with our partners at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, in preparation for National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, to cheer on the work of the thousands of volunteers who provide literacy tutoring across the county.  The Campaign’s initiative is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of volunteerism  that helps young children, especially those at risk of low literacy, to learn to read and reach their full potential.

Public libraries and museums are natural partners in this effort.  Not only do these community anchors serve as needed third spaces with meeting rooms for literacy tutoring, they often provide books and supplies, and initiate literacy programs with local partners like Boys and Girls Clubs, Head Start, and schools. Museums and libraries are aware of the need to put books into the hands of young children under the guidance of reading tutors and volunteers. These institutions often use their collections to support unique learning environments and experiences for young children that enhance literacy learning in many ways.

For instance the Minnesota Children’s Museum partnered with the St. Paul Public Library system to install children’s exhibits in two underserved libraries to assure that families and those caring for children in family, friend, and neighbor care settings have local access to literacy-based interactive experiences.  The Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, Maryland, runs a number of summer reading programs, including “Summer Reading in a Kit,” bringing books, reading logs, and incentives to community-based programs such as church-run day care centers that lack other access to literacy-based services and materials.

Be sure to thank your favorite reading tutors and volunteers for their work.  We hope you will help amplify their work by contributing stories and pictures to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s awareness initiative By spreading the word we can inspire others to take up this important cause.

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