There are many ways you can help defeat the literacy crisis, but one of the most significant steps you can take is making a personal effort to take advantage of your own literacy skills. People must understand that the ability to read and write is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Reading is how we take in and process important information, whether it be through books, articles, infographics or even poetry.

Embrace Your own Literacy Skills. It is important to actively engage yourself in reading different material. By just scrolling through the online news for 15 minutes each day, you are not only learning about current events but strengthening your own literacy skills. By simply picking up a new book, you are giving yourself the opportunity to see the world from someone else’s perspective. Even if you don’t enjoy reading for pleasure, by taking time out of your day to read and engage in different material, you are increasing your knowledge and taking advantage of your own literacy skills

Help Children Develop Their Reading Skills. From a young age, children begin to learn fundamental reading skills, which makes it a crucial time to encourage them to learn to love reading. Whether it be your own children, younger siblings, or a child you tutor, by taking time to read to children everyday and giving them a positive reading experience, you are strengthening their skills and knowledge for the future. Even if you don’t personally come into contact with children on a daily basis, you can help children in your local area by donating to book drives, becoming an English tutor, or volunteering at your local library. As a MoCo for Literacy member or volunteer, we offer these opportunities for you through our organization.

Donate to Literacy Organizations. There are many literacy and education organizations that accept different kinds of donations. Some of the most notable ones include: Room to Read, Reading is Fundamental, National Center for Families Learning, Book Aid International, Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, Read Aloud 15 Minutes, Read Ahead!, World Literacy Foundation and more.

Write a Letter to Congress. You could write a letter to your Member of Congress informing them of the urgency of the literacy crisis. Let them know that they should invest in the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant program, a funding stream for library and literacy non-profit organizations. You could use this website https://ziplook.house.gov/htbin/findrep_house?ZIP5 to find your Congressmen and write them a letter today.

Support Your Local Libraries and Bookstores. As a result of COVID-19, independent bookstores across the nation have gone out of business. Additionally, Barnes and Noble, the largest bookstore chain in America, has temporarily closed down 65% of their stores over the past five months. We need to support our local and independent bookstores and ensure that they don’t go out of business, as many people‒especially low-income families‒depend on them for books. Bookshop.org, a new website that has grown tremendously over COVID-19, allows you to track and support independent bookstores in your area.

Spread Awareness. By informing more people of the literacy crisis in America, you are giving them the opportunity to take advantage of their own literacy skills and contribute more to the cause. The more people know about the literacy crisis, the more they can donate, volunteer, and bring more attention to the issue. You could start spreading awareness by sharing this article with others and encouraging more people to educate themselves on the literacy crisis.

Join MOCO FOR LITERACY. If you’re a high school student in Montgomery County who wants to help solve the literacy crisis, then you should join our organization. At MOCO FOR LITERACY, we make a continuous effort to promote literacy through volunteer work, book drives, tutoring, reviews, monthly articles and more. By joining our organization, you are taking a significant first step towards achieving better literacy in our society. It’s time for you to get involved and become active in this conversation. Together, we need to take advantage of our own literacy so that one day, the other 43 percent of our nation can obtain the joy and privilege of reading too.

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