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Kids need early reading champions and books in their lives to be ready for school success. An alarming number of children – about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families – are still struggling to read by the end of third grade. This single fact can dramatically decrease the odds of school success and limit future options in life.

The good news is that we have the power to help change these troubling statistics. Here are 10  ways you can help tackle this problem:

  1. Seek and you shall find. Find out where your time and experience are needed by using our Volunteer Opportunity Finder. Just type in your zip code and keyword (“read” is a good one) to find options in your area.
  1. Contact your local library. Ask the librarian if the library is looking for volunteers to staff its literacy programs for kids. Pick up the phone or, better yet, use this as an excuse to chat with someone new face-to-face!
  1. Donate your kids’ old books. Do you have children’s books that aren’t being used any more? Know friends or neighbors who might have similar boxes in their basements? Collect used books and donate them to a local library, after-school program, shelter or a local donation center.
  1. Exchange books. Prefer a creative way to use those books you collected? Start a Little Free Library Book Exchange in your neighborhood and put smiles on countless faces when kids discover free books in an unexpected place.
  1. Offer bedtime books for children without homes. Send packages through Project Night Night to homeless children who need essentials, exposure to books and the comfort of a bedtime story. Order the totes and invite friends over, turning the assembly process into an opportunity to connect.
  1. Become a literacy advocate in your community. Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper describing your personal experience with the literacy crisis we face today and calling on local leaders to invest in children’s literacy. Personal stories are powerful, and your voice can make a difference. Discover more advocacy ideas here from Reading is Fundamental.
  1. Cook and learn. Cooking with kids offers a fun way to add a few literacy lessons to your dish. This flier presents five ways you can use Chop Chop Magazine to boost literacy for children in grades three and up.
  1. Become a more intentional reading instructor for the kids in your life. Check out this video produced by School on Wheels, which includes four reading comprehension strategies: making connections, retelling, asking questions, and making predictions.
  1. Wash and learn. Identify a local laundromat and work with the manager or owner to host a read-aloud event. Check out the Too Small To Fail Community Toolkit for more great ideas and a templated flier you can download to inform customers ahead of time so they can bring their children! Then, choose a favorite book to share.
  1. Help purchase books for kids who need them. Many children living in low-income families have limited access to books and struggle to keep up with their classmates as a result. Gen2Gen is working with First Book to find solutions. For just $3, you can put a book in the hands of a delighted child. And, using an app from Boomerang Giving, you can also apply your senior discounts toward book purchases. Learn more here. How’s that for an easy way to feel good?

Got another idea? Tried one of these? Like Gen2Gen on Facebook and share your thoughts!

Featured Gen2Gen Reads Partners

AARP Experience Corps

AARP Foundation Experience Corps volunteers tutor K-3 students struggling to read.

Oasis Tutoring

Oasis volunteer tutors work with children in grades K-3 who teachers feel would benefit from a caring, one-on-one mentoring relationship.

Reading Partners

Reading Partners tutors work with elementary students​​ ​using ​easy-to-follow, ​​individualized​ lesson plans ​that help ​students learn to read.