A community with an elevated level of literacy and a lot of readers is a wonderful place to live. Studies show that all levels of society are lifted by superior literacy rates, from economic development to the quality of social interaction. Even crime rates are lower in literate communities.


What can you do to improve the literacy rate of your community? Here are some practical tips.


Organize Tutor Clubs/Groups

Many schools and libraries already have literacy programs that make tutors available to bolster reading skills. But taking it a step further by starting a local tutoring group is a more proactive approach and a fantastic idea. Put out the word for volunteers. You’ll be surprised at how many opt in, from retired teachers to college students who want to get volunteer experience on their resumes.


Focus on Preschoolers

The origin of reading problems in most people can be traced to early childhood. Voluminous studies show that when preschool-age children get help learning the alphabet and a start at sounding out words, the result is remarkably better academic performance once they enter formal education. Great readers start early.


Conduct Essay/Writing Contests

Making a game of it makes it fun. A local community that sponsors an essay contest that brings the promise of an award and recognition is a powerful motivator for more people to get involved. The winner of local awards often go on to compete in more prestigious regional, state and national competitions.


Make Reading Come Alive

Reading today has stiff competition from other modes of information in-take, especially TV and the vast online world. It’s just too easy to kick back and switch on a TV or computer screen rather than settle into the “task” of reading. To overcome the competition of the broadcast and digital world, tie reading and writing to activities, such as performance art, improvisation and theater. Conducting live poetry reading events is a great idea because it encourages active participation in social settings among members of the community.


Make it a Cooperative Effort

A single organization working alone is not nearly as effective as several groups coordinating activities and pooling resources to bolster literacy. Ask for help, form partnerships, and multiply your effort with the natural synergy that results.