little free library

5 Literary Ways to Give Back to the Community

Reading and writing poetry can provide a deep sense of purpose, as well as motivation to extend this purpose to others. If you’re a writer, it’s natural to want to inspire the same love of writing and reading throughout your community. Here are five ideas to get started. 


Tutor or read to kids. 


Many writers found their love of literature at an early age, thanks to the powerful influence of teachers, parents, favorite authors, and other role models. Those looking to instill that same passion in kids and young adults might enjoy helping students with homework or reading books to them over Zoom or in-person. Organizations like Read to a Child—with chapters in Boston, Detroit, Hartford, Los Angeles, and Miami—or Lead to Read, Children Rising, and Reach Out & Read can pair volunteers with mentees. 


Provide literacy training for immigrants and refugees. 


For writers who would rather work with adults, preparing refugees and immigrants for the citizenship test—or practicing conversational English with them—can promote inclusivity and the global nature of poetry. Organizations like Potencia, Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America (FORA), and Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) provide training and a starting point. 


Find a prison pen pal. 


Literary organizations have often been at the forefront of the abolitionist movement. Consider being a part of this legacy by finding an incarcerated pen pal through Write a Prisoner or Liberation Library


Write to a senior. 


Hearing from people of all ages and receiving mail can brighten the daily lives of older adults, who often struggle with isolation and mental health issues. Senior pen pal programs can help curb this loneliness and promote intergenerational bonds. Reach out to a senior through the organization Ready to Care.


Open a little free library. 


Not only are little free libraries whimsical and an opportunity for writers to live out their librarian dreams, but they’re also a way to make books more accessible. Plus, if you’re like most writers, your shelves are likely full—so why not circulate your favorite reads for others to enjoy? Learn how to register and curate a little free library by visiting the organization’s website. 


Wanting to give money as well as time? Check out our favorite poetry-related organizations to support with donations.