20 Ways to Get SMART for Kids & Families

20 Ways to Get SMART
For Children and Families

SMART is celebrating 20 years of inspiring a love of reading in Oregon’s children.

Studies show that students need 1,000 hours of “lap time” reading to be prepared to learn to read when they enter Kindergarten.  That’s 20 minutes a day from the time they’re born until they enter school!

As part of SMART’s 20th anniversary, we’re raising awareness about the critical importance of reading in a child’s life.

Here’s how it works:  Following, you’ll find a list of 20 Ways to Get SMART.  These are ideas for ways you and your family can get involved in supporting childhood literacy.

You’ll also find a list of 20 tips for reading with children.  Reading as a family is an essential part of your child’s literacy development.  Use these questions and tips as a guide to help build our child’s reading skills and comprehension.


  1. Make a Difference. Become a SMART volunteer! SMART volunteers make a difference in children’s lives every day. Do you or your friends have an hour per week to spare? You can find SMART’s online volunteer application here.
  2. Be a SMART Friend and Follower. Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!
  3. 20 Minutes a Day.  Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. Read 20 minutes a day to a child in your life and see what a difference it makes. Parents, learn more here.
  4.  Kid’s Book Club.  Kids, do you like reading with your friends at school?  Start a book club and read and share stories together!  Check out this resource for information on how to get started.
  5. Visit Your Local Library.  Head to your local library for some family reading fun.  Don’t have library cards?  Sign the whole family up!  For a list of public libraries throughout Oregon, click here.
  6. Spread The Word. Help us spread the word about the need for SMART volunteers. With more volunteers, we can read with more children. Visit www.CelebrateSMART.org to learn more about how you can help.
  7. SMART Schools.  Is your child’s school a SMART school?  Thank your principal and teachers for having SMART.  Want your child’s school to be a SMART school?  Tell your principal and teachers!  This directory from the Oregon Department of Education provides a full list of schools and contact information throughout the state.
  8. Tell Your SMART Story!  Has your child been part of the SMART program?  Share your experience as a SMART parent at our 20th anniversary website, www.CelebrateSMART.org.
  9. SMART Families.  Research shows children must learn to read by the 3rd grade in order to read to learn.  To read about this important benchmark, click here.  Then, talk to other families about the SMART program and the importance of reading.
  10. Learning and Sharing.  Kids, tell your parents what you learned in school or share about your favorite book you read this week.  Talking about learning helps to increase comprehension and vocabulary for young readers.
  11. SMART Giving.  Have old or unused books lying around the house that aren’t being read?  Gather them up and donate the books to your local school or book bank.  Click here for search results on where to donate used books in Oregon, or create a tailored search for your community.
  12. Story Sharing.  Kids, share your favorite books with friends at school, or loan them your favorite book to read!
  13. Dine SMART.  Have a favorite family restaurant?  Convince them to give 20% of sales to SMART for a night!
  14. SMARTen Your Daily Habits.  Parents, buy a cup of coffee each morning?  Go out for lunch?  Skip the coffee or bag your lunch for 20 days and donate the money you save to SMART!  It’ll add up.
  15. Sponsor a SMART Child.  A donation of just $30 buys 14 new books for a SMART student participant – that’s a full year of books for one SMART child!
  16. Give the Gift of Reading.  Don’t know what to get for friends or family members for their birthday or holiday gift?  Donate to SMART in their honor in place of a gift. Click here to learn more about this option!
  17. Dialing for SMART Dollars.  Muster up that courage and ask 20 people you know to give $20 to SMART.
  18. Turn Books into Dollars.  Have 20 used books lying around the house?  Sell them to a book store and donate the money to SMART or to your local school.
  19. SMARTen Your Tax Return.  April 15 doesn’t have to be all bad…  When tax time rolls around, think about SMART and donate through a tax refund.  SMART’s code is #5.
  20. SMART Sale!  Bake 20 cupcakes and hold a bake sale to benefit SMART or your local school.  Or, have your neighbors join in a yard sale and donate the money raised.  Click here for a guide from SMART on community fundraising activities.

20 Tips for
Reading with Children

Before the story…

  1. Read the title, what does it tell you about the story?
  2. Take a picture walk, illustrations can give you clues!
  3. Ask someone to read aloud to you!
  4. Make predictions.  Ask: “What is going to happen?”

During the story…

  1. Be a reading detective. Ask: Who, what, when, where, why and how?
  2. Sound out words you don’t know.
  3. Skip words you don’t understand, then take your best guess using the context clues.
  4. Use the knowledge that is already in your brain, to help you understand what you are reading!
  5. Identify the characters in the story. Who is the main character?
  6. Read the story aloud to yourself, a friend or family member.

After the story…

  1. Make connections from the story to your own life!
  2. Make connections from the story to another book or story you’ve read.
  3. Tell what happened in the story.
  4. Identify the problem… and the solution!
  5. Draw a picture to show what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the story!

More ways to build reading skills:

  1. Keep reading books on your own, with family or with friends.
  2. When choosing books, think about topics that interest you.
  3. Read words that you see in the world, not only in books.
  4. Write your own stories.
  5. Believe in yourself.


See 20 ways
to get SMART:

Families Volunteers