Reader to Reader

This week I’m going to talk about one of my jobs, and why it is amazing. I actually don’t mind any of my jobs, thank goodness, but this job is my favorite, for reasons that will soon be very obvious. I work for Reader to Reader, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to expanding literacy in low-income, vulnerable communities across the country. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about education policy, you’ll know that I am a huge supporter of efforts to increase literacy. I’m also very aware of the effects that a low income level can have on the educational opportunities of an area, so I understand what a godsend the Reader to Reader program is to some schools.

Reader to Reader helps schools in a variety of ways. One of them is by donating books and computers to schools that otherwise would not have been able to provide adequate resources to their students. Amherst College helps out by donating refurbished computers that have been fixed up by the IT department to the program, after which they are sent out to partner schools.

As for books, at the office we sort through boxes of them donated by community members and others to determine which are in good enough condition to be sent out to schools. We then sort them out by age level to later put in boxes and ship out. Publishing houses also send us advance reading copies (ARCs) to help with the donation process. It’s pretty sweet. So, if you happen to have any books in pretty good condition that you don’t read anymore, drop them by the basement of the Cadigan Center and we’ll put them to good use.

My favorite part of the program, however, is the e-mentoring section, in which college student workers read books and then discuss them online with middle and high school students all over the country. Firstly, we get paid to read great books like The Hunger Games, The Giver, etc. Secondly, we get to make a difference in these kids’ lives by helping them to analyze the book, making reading fun, and hopefully fostering a life-long interest in reading and learning. It doesn’t get much better than that.

This is all not to mention the fun, caring, and giving people that I work with and for. The world needs more people willing to take a chance on low-income students and give them the tools they need to succeed.

I’ll leave you with this. “A neighbor’s blessed burden within reason, becomes the burden borne of all and one.”