The Volunteer Reader’s Role


Our volunteers often tell us that they get more from their experience than they give. Still, volunteering is an important commitment. In support of SMART Reading’s mission, we ask that volunteers have the following qualities:

Qualities of a SMART Reading Volunteer:

  • Consistent – This is essential, because kids will miss out on SMART Reading in your absence. A SMART Reading volunteer values building relationships with students to excite them about reading.
  • Child-driven – Rather than teaching or tutoring, your role as a SMART Reading volunteer is to provide a special time in a child’s day for them to simply have fun with books and reading.
  • Committed to Equity – Create a safe and positive experience for children of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.
  • Committed to SafetyMaintain open and regular communication with the Volunteer Site Coordinator, reporting any concerns immediately. Adhere to all safety and other policies and procedures for SMART Reading and for your site placement.
  • Adaptable A SMART Reading volunteer is open to embracing the virtual program adaptations made in the 2020-2021 school year. SMART Reading may look different, but we are still sparking joy and opportunity through the magic of a shared book!

Volunteer Opportunities:

Here’s a look at the various volunteer roles at SMART Reading (click each one to read a description):

In-Person or Virtual SMART Reader

SMART Reading Volunteer Readers show up to weekly individualized reading sessions with a student via a virtual platform or in person. Books shared during a reading session are chosen by students from our curated book collection. 

Virtual SMART consists of three 9-week reading sessions with a weekly commitment of one hour. There is a fall session, a winter session and a spring session. Volunteers are invited to participate in one of the three 9-week sessions, but are welcome to participate in all three sessions if they are available and there are students that still need to be served.

In-person service will be offered in specific instances where the site partner requests it and we can do so safely within our specified parameters, and following state and local health guidance. The reading sessions will consist of a weekly commitment of one hour onsite at a local elementary school or community partner’s space.

Click here to read the Volunteer Reader position description. 

Classroom Read-Aloud Reader

Classroom Read-Aloud volunteers log on for scheduled reading sessions with an entire classroom of students  through a virtual platform. During the session, they'll read one or more books from our curated collection to the group of students.

The commitment as a Classroom Read-Aloud volunteer will vary depending on the needs of our partners, but volunteers should expect to commit to at maximum of one hour per week.

Pen Pal Volunteer

SMART Reading Volunteers write notes to students, encouraging them as they read the books they receive from SMART Reading, books their teachers are assigning, and books they may already have. 

Pen Pal volunteers will be assigned one or more students and should expect to continue correspondence with the student(s) for the duration of the program, from two to seven months.

Volunteer Site Coordinator

This leadership volunteer position serves as the key site liaison for SMART Reading, working with SMART Reading and site staff to implement and oversee the program throughout the year. You'll learn more about this role later in the introduction, or click here to read the Volunteer Site Coordinator position description. 


Volunteering Virtually – Essential Skills & Equipment: 

  • Knowledge of, and experience with, using virtual meeting platforms such as  Zoom and Google Meet; the ability to screenshare with participants
  • A laptop, desktop computer, or tablet with a camera and microphone (smartphones are not suitable for the needs of this role)
  • Stable and reliable internet connection