I want to give back to my community

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Sombre

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Hey gang!

Like most of you (hopefully!), I've reached that point in my life where I wanna develop my life and career, and for me at least, one of those will be a by-product of giving back to my local community. So, a little backstory:

I live in a small village in the North West of England. Or are we a town? I think it's hotly contested. We're about 22k people, but we have good links? I dunno, whatever. When I was growing up, I was an absolute FIEND for the library and reading. Like, we're talking, I used to go to the library on Friday after school, load up my backpack with fantasy novels and Jacqueline Wilson, and I'd just read all week. It kinda developed into a lifelong love of reading/writing and the English language in general. Now, in the next...year (?), I'm applying to teach English overseas (I'm applying for both the JET Programme and EPIK, to teach in either Japan or Korea respectively) in 2020. I wouldn't be lying when I said it's been my dream job since I was 18? At the moment, I'm a teaching assistant in a primary school, and one of my big passions at school is interventions about English. I love teaching grammar, spellings, sentence structure, how to read effectively, basically all aspect of the current SPAG curriculum! I'd absolutely LOVE to translate that love of English into a job, and I'm very into SEA as a culture where you can teach English to great effect.

So, something I've noticed in my ten years working in education is how traditional reading and writing has fallen by the wayside. It's very rare that I find kids who read for pleasure. I'm not a parent, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but a LOT of children in the UK, I'm finding, are raised on tablets and games consoles (I mean thank GOD my school has almost dried up in how many people play Fortnite), but there's still a lot of children who struggle to read, don't read at home, and just spend their entire lives on Twitch and Youtube and the XBOX One (It's somehow NEVER a PS4...)

So, I'm wanting to give back to my local community, and I have an idea how. Feeding back to my local library, I'd love to do some sort of weekly reading group there. I don't know if I should do a session where I just READ to kids, or we do activities, or we discuss books or what. This is kinda why I'm reaching out to the GB community, something I've been a part of for a long time. Does anyone have any ideas how I could promote literacy and a love for reading in my local community? Has anyone here done anything similar, and has any ideas for how I'd go about doing it? I guess the first step is contacting my local library and seeing if a slot is available at weekend for a session where I could read some books to children, and talk to them about what books they're reading? I'm CRB/DBS checked within the last month, and I've been working in education at primary schools with NO PROBLEMS for the last 10 years, so I think my credentials are there too.

Help me out GB friends. If anyone has any advice/encouragement/ideas or ANYTHING, then please reach out to me in this thread! It's something I'm really passionate about, and I guess it looks good on my CV to show that I'm actively making an effort to improve my professional practice in a voluntary sense.

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nutter

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You’re moving in the right direction. Let it be known that you want to help, and let the right people know.

Talk to the local librarians, let them know that you want to help, and how you were thinking of helping. They may not need EXACTLY what you propose, but help out anyhow. Become a part of that community.

Make connections. Find out who’s responsible for the library and connect with them. Share your passion. Take their feedback. You’ll get where you want to go.

99% of it is getting out there and networking with folks. Passion and working gratis will make it much easier.

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stantongrouse

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@nutter is right, talk to local librarians and any community support groups, they will be the most in touch with those that have literacy issues. I'm down in London and there are lots of community led groups that support parents with child care - let the adults have a break and a cuppa while volunteers do activities with the kids for an hour or two.

Alternatively, I did a lot with inmates on reading programmes - low literacy is really high among offenders so, although a side step from helping the young 'uns it's still pretty helpful to be offering them support with this. We ran a book club, reading the start of books to get them engaged and supporting them through reading the rest themselves. It was great fun, especially seeing a load of guys who'd never really read much past The Sun or Mirror argue over the motivations of the characters in a John Le Carre novel. And, ask for more books.

Good luck with finding something though - helping anyone get more enjoyment out of books earns as much kudos as there is to spare!

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ltcolumbo

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I work for a city and do a lot of community work related to that, and have a lot of connections to and the experience working with our local library system. If you really want suggestions to help encourage reading, I can offer a few things I have picked up on in the last few years. Volunteering to work with the library is great, but it’s probably not going to encourage people who aren’t into reading to take up the habit. Your audience is going to be regular library users. They need support, too, so you would still be helping someone, but if your goal is to help people curate a love for reading, you need to extend your audience to those who don’t already read. One way is to look into the “Little Library” system. I don’t Lino’s how present it is in the UK, but in the States, at least in the US, there is support in many communities. Little Libraries are basically small cabinets or large mailboxes you can build (or buy) and with permission of your local municipality, install in a public place and stock with books. Paint or Inscribe it with a message that encourages people to take or leave books as necessary. You can stock it with used books, and can often get donations from libraries, books stores, and others in your community. Most are installed in lower income neighborhoods that do not have a nearby library, and you’d be amazed how much turnover they can receive. Surprisingly, I’ve also never seen one vandalized, oddly enough. In my City, we started off with two, and now there are more than a dozen, and the books are getting swapped and restocked by anonymous strangers throughout.

Or, if you’re a teacher - why not start a book club in your school? You pick a book, and once every few weeks or month, you buy a couple pizzas or whatever and get together with the kids to discuss Salem’s Lot.

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wollywoo

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#5  Edited By wollywoo

Good on you for wanting to help. Kinda funny to ask this on a random video game forum - likely we won't know a lot about the ins and outs of library systems in small English towns. I wouldn't try to organize a reading group yourself - I'd just ask your local librarians what you can do. The libraries where I live (in the US) have a tutoring program where you can help children read / do homework etc., so something like that might be a good start. The library needs to vet you as an okay guy and there is presumably some bureaucracy involved there, parent trust being a big issue. A background check may be required.

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jazzyc

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@ltcolumbo: There have been a few "little library" systems set up in my neck of the UK. Given that they usually get local press coverage, I would say that such things are few and far between here. But, would make the perfect launching pad for helping the community.
I'm probably in the minority but I tend to purchase a book every month or so (to read during lunch break, rather than staring at the phone). Most I don't think I'd ever pick up again so I end up donating them to charity shops. I, personally, would be even happier just popping them down to one of these libraries and letting someone else give it a try.

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SethMode

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@sombre: I don't really have any advice to give you as a person from a large American city (Philadelphia), as far as how to give back to your personal community outside of just looking for volunteering options, but I am currently living and teaching in Korea. What stage are you at with your application process for JET and EPIK? I can give you some ideas of what to expect if you end up going the EPIK route (which, I would recommend, as it pays a lot better than JET -- JET is typically break even money because Japan is expensive as hell, whereas EPIK pays roughly the same, or even privately teaching at a Hagwon in Korea pays roughly the same, and sees your room and board paid for, and public transportation is way, WAY cheaper -- of course, if Japan is where you WANT to be, then I would go that route. Culture shock WILL hit you at some point, so best to go to the place you prefer to be immediately if you can). Also, I can give you some ideas of what life is like in this role, again from a Korea standpoint moreso than Japan. Just if you're interested! Good luck! The cool thing is, whichever you end up in, the other is so close and cheap to travel to you can literally go for a weekend if the mood strikes you.

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Sombre

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@sethmode said:

@sombre: I don't really have any advice to give you as a person from a large American city (Philadelphia), as far as how to give back to your personal community outside of just looking for volunteering options, but I am currently living and teaching in Korea. What stage are you at with your application process for JET and EPIK? I can give you some ideas of what to expect if you end up going the EPIK route (which, I would recommend, as it pays a lot better than JET -- JET is typically break even money because Japan is expensive as hell, whereas EPIK pays roughly the same, or even privately teaching at a Hagwon in Korea pays roughly the same, and sees your room and board paid for, and public transportation is way, WAY cheaper -- of course, if Japan is where you WANT to be, then I would go that route. Culture shock WILL hit you at some point, so best to go to the place you prefer to be immediately if you can). Also, I can give you some ideas of what life is like in this role, again from a Korea standpoint moreso than Japan. Just if you're interested! Good luck! The cool thing is, whichever you end up in, the other is so close and cheap to travel to you can literally go for a weekend if the mood strikes you.

I would VERY MUCH like to slide into your DM's to pick your brain, if that's okay? Getting some info DIRECTLY from the horses mouth is something I'm DESPERATE for

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SethMode

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@sombre: as long as you promise not to say "slide into your DMs" again. :)

Shoot me any questions you have, duder! I will help you as best I can! I would also somewhat recommend the teaching in Korea subreddit, but only for searching for old threads. The people that frequent it are largely grade a twats.