Sunday, March 04, 2018

Five Thoughtful Ways to Honor a Lifelong Reader

My mother passed away in December. She was a professor at Penn State University, an active member of American Association of University Women (AAUW), involved in several book clubs, and a lifelong scholar. One of her favorite sayings -- one I find myself repeating often because of its incontrovertible truth -- is "no education is ever wasted."

Several people who knew and loved Mom chose to honor her life in ways that supported her love of reading. All of them touched my heart far more than cards or flowers could have. If someone you love loves to read, here are some suggestions for passing that love on to others in their name:

1.) Make a donation in the Reader's name to First Book.

Every year, First Book provides books and educational resources to over 3 million kids who need them most. This non-profit organization is a leading voice in the quest for educational equality. In a little over 25 years, First Book has distributed over 170 million books and resources in 30 countries.

2.) Volunteer to teach someone else to read.
Contact your local library or school resource office to inquire about how you can get involved in local literacy programs. Yes, it's hands on. Yes, it will take some time. But you could literally save someone's life...

The link between illiteracy and incarceration is incontrovertible. In 2010, 85 percent of all juveniles caught up in the juvenile court system were functionally illiterate, as were 60 percent of all prison inmates. Inmates have a 16 percent chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help. Those who receive no help have a 70 percent rate of recidivism.

Imagine the difference you could make if, in honor of the Dear Reader in your life, you gave someone the lifelong gift of literacy.

[Not up to the one-on-one interaction of teaching literacy? A donation to RIF, the United States' largest children's literacy non-profit, may be more up your alley.] 

3.) Donate a book to your local library. Or to the library closest to your Beloved Reader.
Everyone who knew Mom knew she believed in libraries. So it's fitting that her local library now has new books donated in Mom's name.

(Note, if you're involved with a local library and you're short on funding, consider holding an In Memoriam Book Drive. Books: the gift that keeps on giving.)

4.) Give beloved titles to hospitals. Or nursing homes. Or senior centers. Or Safe Shelters. Or homeless shelters...
Books love to be read. If you have to clear out a Beloved Reader's bookshelves, consider taking the titles to places where they will be able to gain a whole new audience.

5.) Start a book club in your Dear Reader's name. 
Make the Dear Reader's favorite book the first title you read and discuss.

What is your favorite way to keep the flame of literacy burning?