Yes, You Really Can Help a Child Read through Knitting

Join with Kids Need to Read, and you can make Reading Buddies to encourage children to read to a special friend

In the United States, in the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine that a lack of books could be an issue in households with children.

That’s why I found this statistic so startling:

Forty-five percent of our nation’s children live in neighborhoods that lack public libraries and stores that sell books, or in homes where books are an unaffordable or unfamiliar luxury. At the same time, two-thirds of the schools and programs in our nation’s lowest-income neighborhoods can’t afford to buy books at retail prices.

That means that, today, 32.4 million American children go without books—even as study after study has shown that literacy is crucial to success in school, future earning potential, and the ability to contribute to the nation’s economy.

—Randi Weingarten, American Educator, Spring 2015, found on Kids Need to Read’s mission page

I can scarcely imagine a home without books–or, perhaps worse, a school without books! Yet this is a reality for a striking number of American households.

To Meet a Need: the mission of Kids Need to Read

These are the sort of statistics that led to Denise Gary, along with author PJ Haarsma and actor Nathan Fillion, to found Kids Need to Read in 2008. The mission of Kids Need to Read is simple: to encourage the development of a lifelong love of reading among children. They also strive to encourage communities to support children’s literacy.

Don’t have time to read about Kids Need to Read’s programs? Watch this super-short video to get a quick overview!

Kids Need to Read has many ways of doing this, such as:

  • From Our Shelves to Yours: Book donations are the primary activity of Kids Need to Read. They offer donations of books to underfunded libraries, school districts, and literacy programs.
  • The Page Coach: If you’ve seen “mobile libraries” heading to an underserved part of town, you’ll have a rough idea of what the Page Coach does. It is, essentially, a mobile book donation center. In addition to donating books, it offers an interactive experience with events such as readalongs and special author guests.
  • Grow Your Library: This is a truly innovative program that encourages children to offer acts of service to their community in exchange for more books donated to their library (with a special name plate for the child in question).
  • Storybook Adventures: This combines storytime with copies of the book read for kids to take home.

And believe it or not, your knitting can help!

How Your Knitting Can Encourage Kids to Read

Handmade Reading Buddies
Photo: Denise Gary and Lori Cothrun

Here’s how: you can help this important mission by creating Reading Buddies!

And if you’re wondering, “What’s a Reading Buddy?”, scroll to the bottom of the “Current Needs” page and you’ll learn all about them.

Kids Need to Read is in constant need of “reading buddies” for preschool and kindergarten students! What are reading buddies? They are irresistible stuffed animals, handmade or manufactured, that serve as read aloud companions for budding readers, especially those whose caregivers have difficulties helping them to read at home. This could be due to burdensome schedules, language barriers, or other challenges. Reading at home has the greatest influence on a child’s future literacy skill levels. However, witnessing youngsters with their new pals makes it clear that the critters are also a great source of comfort and love.

More handmade Reading Buddies
Photo: Denise Gary and Lori Cothrun

Unfortunately, many care providers (parents, grandparents, or other guardians) don’t have the time to read to or with their charges. Many others are simply unaware of just how important it is to engage their children with books. That’s where Reading Buddies can fill in the gap.

An adorable handmade Reading Buddy
Photo: Denise Gary and Lori Cothrun

Students are offered their very own “Reading Buddy” that they can enjoy reading to. It’s a great way to encourage children to practice reading. After all, what young child doesn’t love stuffed animals?

If this idea intrigues you, head to the site’s Contact Us page and let Kids Need to Read know that you’re interested in creating handmade buddies for these precious children.

For more information about the Kids Need to Read organization in general, you can visit their full website.

This is truly an outstanding opportunity for charity knitters (and those who like to crochet and/or sew) to help the worthwhile cause of children’s literacy!

Eager to knit for charity but unsure where to start?
Click here to sign up for my free email course, Getting Started with Charity Knitting, and subscribe to the free Knitting Nuggets Newsletter.

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    1. I don’t, because Kids Need to Read is not at all picky about the sort of animals they accept as reading buddies. If you look at the photos in this post, they accept all kinds! I will say that Bev’s Country Cottage has a ton of great knitting patterns for stuffed toys: https://www.bevscountrycottage.com/bearsndolls.html These are specifically designed for charity, too, which makes them even better!