Yes, you. The concept behind literary citizenship is a simple one—become involved in the reading/writing community to support the work of others. It’s not that difficult to do, really. It requires time, but what worthy endeavor doesn’t? Does lit citizenship require money? If you have it to spend in a literary way, great, but even if you don’t, you can still be a solid lit citizen and grow the community.
How can you become a productive lit citizen?
1) Write a note of encouragement to an author whose work you admire. Email, snail mail, tweet, leave a comment on their blog—but let that author know you admire their work.
2) Have a blog? Lit journal? Then do an author interview.
3) Talk up books you like—in person, on Amazon, Goodreads, other social media.
4) Read and support journals—if you’re reading this, then good for you! You’ve taken a step as a lit citizen.
5) Buy books—preferably new, preferably hardback, so the publishers notice. But if you’re strapped for cash, then request them at your local library.
6) Support your local library. Volunteer, donate. Ask what you can do.
7) Give books as gifts.
8) Donate books to local charities—in the past, I’ve donated books to children’s hospitals, and Toys for Tots, among others. What about your local elementary library?
9) What about local elementary schools? Know a teacher that could use some books for the classroom?
10) Volunteer to combat illiteracy—turn someone else on to the joys of reading.
11) Support local readings—go and listen to an author.
12) Visit book festivals.
13) Start a little free library in your neighborhood—littlefreelibrary.org.
14) Join a book club or start one of your own.
For even more ideas, visit websites such as Cathy Day’s www.literarycitizenship.com site. She teaches at Ball State University and teaches a class on literary citizenship, and is the main reason I’ve become a lit citizen. Follow #litcitizen and @litcitizen on Twitter.
What ways can you think of to become a literary citizen?
Cheryl Russell received her MFA from Converse in 2013. Her work has appeared in Infuze, Title Trakk, Focus on Fiction, The Storyteller, Ruminate, and Rose and Thorn. She currently teaches at Malone University. She resides in Ohio with her family, but they would all rather live in one of their favorite vacation spots, Alaska. Read more of her blog posts at whythewritingworks.com.