Literary development isn’t just about competency. It also includes motivation to read and the simple enjoyment of doing so. SMART Reading helps Oregon kids do just that. Founded in 1992, the children’s literary organization has served ​​252,284 children and given more than 3 million books to public school students. 

Image courtesy SMART Reading

SMART’s work is two pronged: It partners with volunteers for virtual and in-class shared reading experiences, and provides increased access to books for kids in grades preschool to eighth grade. In the 2021-22 school year, 14,453 students (including 4,867 in the Portland metro area) received support and books from SMART. 

“We plan on returning to school buildings with our traditional one-on-one, in-person model, as well as offering adapted virtual services we developed during the pandemic,” says executive director Jessica Bowersox. 


This year, SMART is also celebrating its 30th anniversary, and in July, SMART officially merged with another beloved children’s literary nonprofit, The Children’s Book Bank. Now families can help kids become stronger, more engaged readers and provide them with more books! Visit

Want to support SMART’s next chapter this school year? The organization is 100% privately funded and appreciates all donations. SMART is also always looking for people — including teens — to volunteer to read with children. And younger kids can help by donating new or gently used board books, soft- and hardcover picture books, early-reader books and graphic novels. Drop off books at the Children’s Book Bank at 1915 NE 7th Ave.

For more volunteer opportunities for the whole family, see 15+ Kid-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities in Portland.

Tiffany Hill
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