5 Organizations That Encourage Kids To Read

Literacy is an important building block of lifetime success, and it's important to do what we can to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to learn. By providing books, tutoring, and educational programs, these groups are all working toward a future where everyone is able to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading a book. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Inspiring Groups Getting Kids to Read

Organization Headquarters Initiatives
BookSpring Austin, TX Distributes books and runs literacy programs at over 200 partner schools, health care providers, and community centers across Central Texas
Boston Book Festival Cambridge, MA Live readings and storytelling performances, as well as youth-focused Q&A sessions, treasure hunts, arts & crafts, and appearances by costumed characters from kids' stories
Ezra Jack Keats Foundation Brooklyn, NY Supports literacy and arts programs in libraries and public schools, sponsors fellowships, holds student bookmaking competitions, awards grants to fund educational projects, and gives out the EJK Award to emerging authors and illustrators
Books For Africa Saint Paul, MN Distributes books in every African country, including locations like orphanages, school libraries, and community centers, along with special projects to provide vocational resources to specific areas
New Haven Reads New Haven, CT Provides free, individualized, one-on-one tutoring, a book bank, and preschool & kindergarten programs that foster early learning experiences to get kids school-ready

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In Depth

Reading is an important and intellectually enriching activity regardless of age, but it's an especially crucial one for kids. Not only does it give them something enjoyable to do, it also teaches them skills and values that are vital to their developing brains, such as critical thinking, empathy, imagination, and cultural awareness. Promoting book accessibility, the organizations included on this list work to ensure that children of all socioeconomic backgrounds can enjoy these benefits. In no particular order, here are five groups striving to improve childhood literacy by engaging young people in the pleasures of reading.

At #1 is BookSpring, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas that seeks to develop early literacy in kids from birth to age twelve. Focused on reaching children from low-income families, it distributes books and educational materials through over 200 partner schools, healthcare providers, and community centers across Central Texas, while also offering volunteer-run motivational activities. By creating easy access to books, the organization aims to foster a lifelong passion for reading among kids and their families.

BookSpring's literacy programs are conducted in a plethora of locations such as health and wellness clinics, elementary schools, and agencies, and take place throughout the year in order to cultivate and sustain supportive reading communities. Some of the notable ones include ReadWell, which disseminates child-appropriate books and instructional materials in pediatric exam rooms, and Books for Me, an initiative that serves charter and public schools in areas with high rates of poverty. Help spread the gift of literacy by sponsoring programs in the priority zip codes listed on BookSpring's site.

Help spread the gift of literacy by sponsoring programs in the priority zip codes listed on BookSpring's site.

For #2 we have the Boston Book Festival. Through a schedule of year-round events leading up to a free, two-day festival, BBF honors the capacity of words to stimulate ideas, galvanize discourse, and bring people together. Designed to bolster the cultural vibrancy of the city through a celebration of literary culture, the festival features a range of performances, writing workshops, walking tours, food trucks, exhibitors, and sessions on different literary genres. Included in its lineup are a bevy of activities for kids, such as arts and crafts, presentations, and story times held at the Boston Public Library.

Throughout the festival, kids are encouraged to experience the joy of books through live storytelling performances, which include readings by picture book authors and illustrators. Other activities include panel discussions, workshops on cartooning and puppet-making, youth-focused question and answer sessions, and literature-themed treasure hunts that get children up and moving. Rounding out the programming are keynote conversations with renowned writers, and appearances by costumed characters from cherished children's stories. Get involved with the fest by volunteering as one of the costumed characters, or by making a donation through BBF's site.

Coming in at #3 is the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which brings the inclusive values of the esteemed children's author to the lives of children everywhere. Fueled by his multicultural philosophy and generous spirit, it supports literacy and arts programs in libraries and public schools, sponsors fellowships, and awards grants to fund educators' innovative projects. To help extend Keats' legacy of progressive picture books, it also bestows the EJK award upon emerging authors and illustrators who demonstrate a commitment to reflecting diversity in their work.

Fueled by his multicultural philosophy and generous spirit, it supports literacy and arts programs in libraries and public schools, sponsors fellowships, and awards grants to fund educators' innovative projects.

In partnership with the New York City Department of Education, the foundation offers a bookmaking competition that gives students from third to twelfth grade opportunities to write, research, and present their work to an audience. The competition's jury selects both city-wide and borough winners, who come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and skill levels. Another significant program is a story and craft series at the Brooklyn Public Library, where kids can come in their pajamas to hear stories and take home a free Keats picture book. Purchase CDs, toys, or posters from the foundation's online shop to support its efforts.

For #4 we get Books for Africa. Dedicated to eradicating literary famine in Africa, this organization collects, ships, and distributes books to students across the continent. Working to overcome common economic and learning barriers faced by kids, it supplies books and educational materials to a range of places such as orphanages, school libraries, and community centers. The group reaches every African country through millions of orders, ensuring that children, families, and educators have the resources they need to become engaged readers and empowered citizens.

On top of its book order service, the organization runs special initiatives that address the needs of particular groups. Designed to perpetuate the rule of law and the primacy of human rights, the Jack Mason Law and Democracy Initiative promotes civil justice by enabling access to essential legal texts. The Agriculture Libraries project provides farmers and students with educational and vocational resources, while another project partners with Francophone countries to send reading materials to French-speaking Africans. Do your part to improve childhood literacy on the continent by donating funds or books, or by giving to a specific program on the group's website.

Do your part to improve childhood literacy on the continent by donating funds or books, or by giving to a specific program on the group's website.

Finally, landing at #5 is New Haven Reads, which was founded in 2001 to embolden kids' literacy skills and assist in their ongoing academic and life success. Collaborating with community groups and thousands of volunteers, it provides individualized one-on-one tutoring, family support, and preschool and kindergarten educational programs, all of which are offered free of charge. Through these services, New Haven Reads strives to use the power of reading to inspire, uplift, and enhance the lives of children and the communities to which they belong.

The cornerstone of the organization, the literacy tutoring program is designed for all students between first and twelfth grade, and provides structured, individually tailored one-hour weekly sessions that meet their literacy needs. Focused on foundational reading skills, the pre-K and kindergarten program offers interactive activities to help foster early learning experiences and boost school readiness. Also significant to New Haven Reads' efforts is its book bank, which contains hundreds of titles visitors can check out for free. To aid the organization's mission, get involved as a tutor or field trip volunteer.