Kids Can Dream Big with Books

More Access to Books Opens Doors for Kids

Become a Reading Volunteer

Express an interest in volunteering!

When a child finds a book they love, it can be magical.

Reading opens new worlds. With a book, kids can imagine new places, think about new ideas and see themselves as anything they want to be. Reading is also the foundation for all learning. Learning math, science, technology, history – mastering all of these subjects requires kids to have strong reading skills.

That may be one of the reasons that research shows the single most significant factor influencing a child’s educational success is an introduction to books.1 Even more important, studies demonstrate that reading proficiently by third grade leads to higher rates of graduating on time2, and earning a high school diploma helps kids avoid incarceration3, find a job that pays a sustainable wage4 and live a healthier life.5

Yet too many children enter school without even the basic skills they need to learn to read. Across the country, one in four kids grows up not knowing how to read at a basic level.6 The statistics are more grave for children who come from under-resourced neighborhoods. Three in five families who struggle to make ends meet have no books in their homes for their children.7 In 2017-18, 23% fewer Cumberland County students who were eligible for free or reduced lunch read proficiently, when compared to students not eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.

Graph of Cumberland County 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency

Read our Thrive2027 Goal 1 Spotlight to dig into the data and read what is being done to raise the bar for kids in Cumberland County.

If we want all kids to be able to be successful in school and go on to pursue higher education or be qualified for a stable job, there must be a way for more kids to build their literacy skills.

Together with volunteers in the community, we can give more kids the chance to develop these important skills by volunteering to read to them.

We are looking for volunteers to help instill a love of reading in more kids. Are you ready to help?

Be the ONE and volunteer to:

    • Commit to volunteer to read in a classroom through our series of four reading days. Contact for more information.
    • Read on a weekly basis at elementary schools in Westbrook, Portland and South Portland.  Contact for more information.
    • Change the lives of kids who might not have easy access to books and donate books to The Book Fairy Pantry Project (Pam Leo,, a Little Library in your area, or host a book drive at your place of business or school.

Join your neighbors to make a difference in the lives of local kids.


1National Commission on Reading
2Donald J. Hernandez, Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Center
3U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics
4U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
5Center for Disease Control and Prevention
6National Assessment of Educational Progress
7Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study

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