Since NTR is always training welfare recipients and other needy folks to give them marketable skills, it makes sense if we can also do a little something to extend the benefits of education to their children. This program, occupying a four-foot shelf in a high-traffic area of our factory floor, aims to encourage and equip our adult trainees to read aloud to their kids.
The shelf is prominently marked with signage. In addition to telling passersby that the books are free for the taking and intended for reading aloud, the signs also inform as to why reading aloud to kids is such a good idea, and they display tips on how to do it effectively.
The shelf itself is stocked with books primarily in the reading-level range of infant to third grade. We try to keep the selection as fresh-looking as possible in order to keep people interested. Book donations are always desired.
How to Help These Kids
New and gently used children's books suitable for the read-aloud crowd, say Infant to 3rd Grade, may be dropped off at, or shipped to, Nonprofit Technology Resources, 1524 Brandywine St, Philadelphia PA 19130. Books with great read-aloud characteristics are especially desired. Gift cards or certificates for bookstores located near NTR are also welcome. Questions and other remarks about this program are welcomed by staffer Paul Sank, who monitors the shelf: email@example.com.
Again, the age range we're looking for is infant through third grade; those are the kids this program seeks to serve primarily. Books for older children are also accepted, but the distribution of them is less restricted. In other words, the younger kids books are offered to NTR trainees/interns only, up to one per day, because such books seem to be harder to come by, and we want the parents to read them aloud with the kids. The older kids books are offered to anyone at all, including parents who walk into our Thrift Store, with no limit on how many they may take.
Keep in mind that the books you donate don't have to be yours; you could get them elsewhere:
- You could set up a book drive among one of the groups of which you are a member -- church, school, VFW post, etc.
- You could buy books for us when you go to yard sales or flea markets -- you'll probably never have to pay more than 25 cents apiece, especially if you mention that you're buying them for charity.
- You could ask yard sale sellers to give you any books they don't sell.
- Instead of actual books, don't forget, you could donate a bookstore gift card or store-credit account and let us do the shopping and selection. (The store should be within 2 miles of NTR, because the shopping is done by bicycle.)
These are a few ideas that have worked so far.
On August 19, 2011, NTR CEO Stan Pokras sent out an idea to several email discussion lists. He wrote, "NTR has over 40 people registered to work with us as interns via various welfare programs. These folks all have kids to support (or they wouldn't be in these programs). And they have very limited incomes."
Pokras then stated a new purpose: "I'd like to encourage them all to read to their children every night."
And he offered a concrete suggestion: "What I'd like to do is have a free book rack where children's books, donated by our friends, can be available for the taking.
"Can you drop off or mail in one or more used children's books? We're not looking for the heirloom books that you want to save for your grand kids. Just the books that aren't going anywhere but deserve to be read again by parents and kids who may not have a fresh book to read from at bed time."
"Reading aloud to young children is so critical," says a report  by early literacy nonprofit Jumpstart, referencing the Economic Policy Institute, "that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors prescribe reading activities along with other advice given to parents at regular checkups."
"Research has continually shown that when adults read to children, discussing story content, asking open-ended questions about story events, explaining the meaning of words, and pointing out features of print," writes Jumpstart, citing Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, "they promote increased language development, comprehension of story content, knowledge of story structure, and a better understanding of language -- all of which lead to literacy success."
A grim, research-based prediction follows: "The absence of early literary stimulation is the harbinger of sustained educational difficulties."
The Family Literacy Foundation, too, writes  in terms of the top tier of educational priority: "Studies prove that the most important thing adults can do in preparing young children for success in school and reading is to read aloud with them."
Jim Trelease, author of "The Read-Aloud Handbook", writes , "If our objective is to create life-time readers -- graduates who continue to read and educate themselves throughout life -- then the reality is we too often create school-time readers -- people who read well enough to graduate but pretty much stop on graduation day. That’s a striking system failure."
It's a failure with a rich-poor gap: "Affluent families read to their children more often, their homes have a richer print climate (books, magazines, and newspapers), and more words are heard in conversation by affluent children," writes Trelease. "Reading regularly to a child helps to close that gap and gives the at-risk child a head start".
 Jumpstart (USA): America's Early Literacy Gap (PDF)
 Family Literacy Foundation: Why Read Aloud With Children? (PDF)
 Jim Trelease: Why Read Aloud To Children? (PDF)