Literacy Resources in Manhattan


Find literacy and reading resources in Manhattan, including children's reading enrichment programs and volunteer opportunities for teens and adults.

JCC in Manhattan

Locations throughout New York City

(646) 505-4450

The JCC offers numerous literacy programs ranging from those that focus on helping children and teens improve their reading and comprehension skills to programs that place volunteer readers in settings such as a homeless shelter for women and children or elementary school libraries. Each program takes volunteers to different areas around the city, and various days and time slots are available to accommodate hectic schedules. New volunteers must attend an orientation meeting before beginning any program. Volunteer applications and detailed program information is available by clicking on the "Literacy Programs" option under the "Social Action" tab on the website or by e-mailing Judy Gross at


New York Public Library Centers for Reading and Writing

Centers for Reading and Writing throughout the Bronx and Manhattan

For volunteers willing to dedicate six months (two 10-week cycles) to improving literacy in adults over the age of 16, the New York Public Library lists a number of locations that appreciate tutors including the Wakefield, Harlem, and Tompkins Square Library Centers for Reading and Writing. Professional staff members provide all the training necessary, and volunteers help students with elementary reading and writing skills work up to a sixth grade proficiency level. To apply to be a volunteer and find a nearby center, visit the website and click on the "Volunteer Tutor Application" and "Call the Center" links.


RIF: Reading Is Fundamental

Locations throughout New York City

Reading Is Fundamental serves children through a national network of volunteer coordinators and literacy programs in nearly 19,000 locations across the U.S., including almost 200 in the borough of Brooklyn (check the website for sites near you). The Brooklyn Public Library, the country's fifth largest library system, is proud to be RIF's largest library-based program. Last year, in New York state alone, 328,935 children selected 1,159,279 books to keep as their own. Visit the website to learn about volunteering, donating, or advocating with Congress to maintain funding beyond the current temporary funding resolution set to expire on March 4.


Urban Word

242 W. 27 Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues

(212) 352-3495

Reaching out to local youths through poetry, hip-hop, and uncensored self-expression, Urban Word promotes a holistic view of literacy that goes beyond reading and writing to include societal awareness and community leadership. The program aims to foster youth leadership through literacy by giving teens ages 13-19 an arena for their unique voices by validating all forms of writing from texting and blog posts to Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson. Support this alternative to traditional literacy workshops by attending the Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slams taking place all over the city: Beginning March 6, local teens perform their original works and compete to represent New York City and defend the reigning champion title in the national poetry slam held in San Francisco. All ticket profits benefit the free workshops. Additional donations can be made through the website, and those interested in donating their time should call about becoming a "Creatively College Bound" mentor to students beginning the university admissions process.



Also see: How to Help Your Child Be a Confident Reader

Resources: Our Education Resource Guide to the New York metro area

Our Online Calendar, for storytelling events and more in Rockland County and the New York metro area