National March into Literacy Month

March is a busy month for book lovers. Next week is Read an E-Book Week, and the entire month is National March into Literacy Month. Theoretically, it is also National Small Press Month, which I would happily celebrate as I am a big fan of small presses. However, the information on the website is for 2010, so it looks like Small Press Month isn’t being observed this year.

Just about everyone knows about the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, which gives toys to needy kids at Christmas. A lesser-known program of the foundation is the literacy program.

The program’s website shows the following shocking statistics:

  • It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and taxpayers is $20 billion per year. (United Way, “Illiteracy: A National Crisis”)
  • In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. (Included in the “Handbook of Early Literacy Research”, Vol. 2 edited by Susan Neuman and David Dickinson)

The site describes the program this way:

After supporting Toys for Tots since 2005 and raising $1.3 million to help brighten the lives of thousands of children nationwide, The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. network launched the Toys for Tots Literacy Program, a year-round initiative, in March 2008 to expand upon its existing partnership.

While the Toys for Tots Literacy Program maintains the Toys for Tots mission of delivering hope, it extends the organization’s reach and impact in a meaningful way by providing children in need with the gift of a book. Since 2008, the program has delivered more than 1 million books to hundreds of thousands of less fortunate children. This program not only brings the joy of reading to these children, but also serves as an important tool in breaking the cycle of poverty.

All donations go directly to purchasing books for needy children, libraries, schools, or literacy programs. You can donate cash at the Toys for Tots site or donate cash or new books at participating UPS Stores and Mailboxes, Etc. locations.

If you agree with me that books and literacy are essential to breaking the cycle of poverty, I hope you will join me in making a donation to put books into the hands of disadvantaged children—through this program or any organization that is fighting illiteracy.

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