If my house were on fire, the first thing I’d try to save would be my photographs. But my books would be a close second. I’d save them before my clothes, my computer, or anything else considered “valuable” by most people. Reading a good book, whether novel or non-fiction, has always been one of my greatest joys. I also love to give books as gifts, but there’s another gift that you can give, and that’s volunteering to read aloud to the many people who — for a variety of reasons — are unable to read for themselves.
Hospitals. If you’ve ever had to recover from a long illness or accident, and you discovered that watching daytime TV can actually make you lose the will to live, you will be a true “angel of mercy” if you read to someone who can’t physically manage a book while confined to a hospital bed.
Nursing Homes. Reading to an elderly person whose eyesight has deteriorated not only catches them up on the latest best seller, but you’ll give them some cherished companionship, too.
Schools. While there are many books available in the classroom, most of them have been handled to the point where they’re in tatters, and read so many times that they’ve lost the magic to quiet a room full of young children. But if you arrive once a week with a bagful of new library books, you will be the reading hero, not only to the kids, but to their grateful teacher.
Volunteer Programs. There are many programs across the country who will link you up programs in your community in need of volunteers. Reach Out and Read links willing readers with everything from reading to children to adult literacy programs. Your local United Way also has a wide variety of opportunites for volunteers, tutors and mentors. If you’re interested in reading for the blind or partially sighted, your state association for the blind can help. Volunteer Match also helps unite volunteers with those in need.
We’d love to hear about your community volunteer experiences. Click here to share your stories.
Photo: Jim Forest