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6 tips for summer reading challenge volunteers

23 July 2019

Medium reading hack   6 volunteer tips
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Summer Reading Challenge volunteer Lazara shares her top tips for a successful summer

This year will be my fifth year volunteering at Norbury Library on the Summer Reading Challenge. It is my absolute favourite thing to do during the summer holidays and I look forward to seeing what the theme is every year.

I value the role I play in the readers’ literacy learning and the influence I have in inspiring them to appreciate the power of books. So here are my 6 top tips for volunteers to make the most of the programme:

1. Make sure you understand the activity first

On your first shift, take some time out to read through the programme instructions so that you are super clear on what you’ll be asking the children to do. It’s important to know the theme of their reading log and to understand how the exercise works so that you can help them when they ask. I consider it to be best practice to show you know the programme details inside out so you can be as helpful as possible.

2. Get to know the readers

Year on year I see new faces and I see old faces (although, sometimes the old faces might as well be new as I am sometimes jaw-droppingly shocked at the growth spurts!) It’s a special feeling being part of the readers’ learning journey especially now that I have served as a volunteer for some time. Taking a keen interest and showing you care will have you recognised as a valued and trusted helper.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions.

It is an undeniable fact that reading comprehension is a fundamental life skill. In fact, a well-known quote attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. This is the foundation upon which I quiz my readers. I would encourage all of you to dig deeper and ask challenging questions (it’s a challenge after all, right?) I have often been astonished by the responses I’ve received when eliciting thought-provoking questions. You too, might find yourself involved in an intellectual conversation with a ten-year-old on your day off!

4. Establish a good relationship with your library team

A big part of my love for the Summer Reading Challenge is the solid connection I have built with my local library. I have a good relationship with the staff and I can be counted on to get the job done. Maintaining a rapport can also come in handy if you ever need a work reference in future or if you are interested in any upcoming library opportunities.

5. Challenge yourself to do the Challenge – read 6 books too!

I am a bookworm myself and so whilst I don’t give myself any prizes (I do have a volunteering certificate though!), I aim to read 6 books throughout the summer as well. I also keep a diary to track all that I have read! Just as much as we expect our readers to knock out 6 books in the holidays, we should definitely challenge ourselves to do the same. Book club anyone?

6. Spread the word to children and volunteers!

Recommend the Challenge to your friends and family by telling them the benefits of volunteering and joining in. The great thing about the Summer Reading Challenge is that everyone can get involved in some way. For me, it’s been hugely satisfying seeing people I know show up and take part. You should totally promote the programme – I’m a self-proclaimed unofficial Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador!

Get involved

Contact your local library to find out about volunteering opportunities in your area. Click here to search for your closest library service.

Join the 2019 Volunteering Hack to keep track of your activities and share ideas with other volunteers

Check out our summer volunteering book list and discover your next read