Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Helping kids develop strong reading skills is critical work with immeasurable ROI for society. In fact, I’m so convinced that fostering mass literacy is the most effective way to make a positive impact on our collective future that I’ve made it my life’s work. And I urge my readers and audiences to do all they can to bring reading to scale in our society by nurturing, teaching, and advocating for the young children in their lives and communities. 

People often ask me how they can help support my work to promote literacy (beyond implementing the strategies I teach with any children in their lives). So today I’d like to share some ways that concerned citizens can join me in my mission to bolster literacy for all. Here are a few ways to help. 

  1. Share Reading for Our Lives. I wrote the book to distill the science of reading into clear, actionable advice for parents. When you give it to parents or caregivers of babies and young children, you support them to effectively nurture the next generation of readers. For example, financial advisor Karen Ellenbecker of the podcast Money Sense told me that she gives the book as a present whenever a client has a baby. I love that idea! You can share the book’s message by giving it as a gift to employees, clients, friends, family, neighbors, and so on.

    Milwaukee-based Porchlight Books offers excellent bulk pricing—38% or greater discount on 25 or more books. They also do a great job handling special orders if you want to explore bookmarks, bookplates or other customizations. Check out Porchlight’s current pricing.
  2. Host a parent workshop. Consider organizing a program to help parents in your workplace or community get practical strategies for raising skilled, fluent readers from birth. My How to Give Your Child A Smart Start Workshop can be delivered in person or virtually to reach parents in your neck of the woods.
  3. Sponsor an author visit or program for a local organization. Schools, libraries, children’s museums, and community groups regularly reach out to me about speaking or presenting workshops, but they often can’t fully fund them. Consider making a donation to help cover event costs.
  4. Host me at a conference or convention. Are you part of an organization or community that may need a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator? If so, keep me in mind to bring a literacy for all focus. I’m available for virtual events and a limited number of in-person events. For 2024, I’m booked for in-person keynotes for library and early-education conferences in Iowa, Idaho, and Maryland. Plus, my virtual How to Give Your Child A Smart Start Workshop is available year-round, since it doesn’t require an airplane to deliver.
  5. Write a review. If you found Reading for Our Lives helpful, please share your thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads, the online bookseller of your choice, or your own website or social media account. Word of mouth is critical for the success of any book, and online reviews really do help boost the book’s visibility among book buyers, getting the message out more widely to those who need it most.
  6. Request (and check out) Reading for Our Lives at your library. Librarians are the ultimate book influencers, so putting the book on their radar makes it more likely that they’ll recommend it to patrons or feature it in displays or resources curated especially for parents.
  7. Help libraries create early literacy kits for families. Middle Georgia Regional Library got a grant to create literacy kits for families to check out that include interactive learning tools and copies of Reading for Our Lives. Supporting libraries to develop such kits is a great way to have a real-world impact and directly support parents and caregivers.
  8. Signal boost on social media. Follow @mayasmarty on Instagram and like, share, and save the posts that resonate with you. Also, check out my Pinterest page and repin your favorite content. Bonus points if you make your own social posts to highlight the book or any related events you attend.
  9. Link to Reading for Our Lives or MayaSmart.com from your website. I’ve been honored to be listed in (and linked from) parent resource pages of various organizations, from library family resource pages to educational board game makers.
  10. Subscribe to my newsletters. Visit www.mayasmart.com/newsletter to sign up to receive weekly free resources for raising readers and nurturing your family’s reading life. No kids at home? No problem. Forward relevant dispatches to others in your network who could benefit. I also have a monthly newsletter for folks who prefer less frequent messages with just the highlights about my literacy outreach efforts, such as recent and upcoming workshops and speeches. This is a great way to stay in the loop.

Know others who may want to help? Please share this post!