Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association

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Getting Involved:
Volunteer Initiatives

Why Get Involved
Some Ideas for Getting Involved

Why Get Involved

Literacy has become a national priority.

We are no longer shying away from the fact that illiteracy in this country is a major national problem which influences many other of our social problems. Some estimates indicate that 20% of adults in America are illiterate, and an even larger percentage are aliterate (they know how to read, but they don’t). Recent studies show that one-third of all incoming university freshmen require remedial reading (with percentages much higher –– up to and over 50 per cent in some places).

It is fast becoming recognized that helping to develop literacy is not just the responsibility of teachers, but is everyone’s responsibility. After all, parents are children’s first (and most important) teachers. And community members can do their part in being active members of the community of learners in their neighborhoods to help our citizens know that reading and writing are as natural and normal as breathing!

The key to developing lifelong readers is finding books which people want to read! This is where the IRA CL/R SIG comes in -- we can help identify excellent literature for people reading at virtually any level and on any topic of interest. But identifying great books is only half of the battle! We must broadcast this information widely and get it into the hands of everyone! And we need to be supportive and encouraging to those whose literacy skills are underdeveloped so that they will have the heart to keep practicing and developing this extremely important skill (which becomes more refined with practice through one’s entire life).

To reach everyone, we need lots of partners: people who love literacy who will commit to do something to help in their families, in their local communities, in their organizations, and in their schools and libraries. What can one person do? Many things. If everyone does something positive, then our collective work will have a tremendous impact, just as billions of drops of water can be a mighty power indeed, though one small drop by itself may seem insignificant.


Some Ideas for Getting Involved

1. Actively read and write yourself, and let others (especially younger people) see you do it. You are modeling that literacy is a vital and enjoyable skill.

2. Buy books for special people in your life -- use The Dragon Lode to identify books which they might like to read or have read to them.

3. Talk about books, what you have learned from them, and how they have influenced your life.

4. Give gift certificates to The Dragon Lode to parents, teachers, and libraries.

5. Tell everyone you know about
The Dragon Lode,
Notable Books for a Global Society, and
Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books.
Help to make these concepts household words.

6. Read to young children to help them be 1000-book children before they begin school -- that is the head start that every child needs.

7. Host gatherings (small informal ones or huge events) to help others know about some of the outstanding books that are available (perhaps share some of the books, invite an author to speak, etc.). Consider using the event as a fund-raiser for purchasing Dragon Lode subscriptions or good books for a children’s library (many of our nation’s school libraries are very badly out of date).

8. Use your influence to share information about literacy and good books with others (word of mouth, articles in various publications, reproducing and distributing flyers targeted to specific audiences) and to encourage others to likewise get involved in various aspects of this literacy crusade.

9. Participate in the IRA CL/R SIG Network, identifying additional people in your state to be recipients of information regarding excellent children’s literature and sharing information from their communities to the nation.

10. Contact the leaders in this organization and share your ideas of other projects which can help. Let us know what YOU want to do, and how we can help you spread the word.
Officers and Board of Directors
Committee Membership
IRA CL/R SIG Network



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Date modified: May 15, 2004 . Feedback