North Yorkshire libraries have been working with volunteers since 2010. Year on year, the number of young volunteers has been increasing. This year, they worked with lots of fantastic young people, but it was sixteen year-old Katy who really stood out.
A journey of discovery
Katy decided to volunteer for The Summer Reading Challenge when library staff visited her college. As soon as she stepped into the library, she embarked on a journey of discovery. She found that she could really make a difference to the children who took part in the Challenge and the experience transformed her into a more confident and outgoing individual.
Katy immersed herself in volunteering, taking part in a huge variety of tasks. She found something positive in everything she did. Shelving books was "relaxing," she said, and sorting through titles allowed her to "discover new books that I previously wouldn't have seen."
Heather French, Service Development Officer at North Yorkshire libraries, said: "Katy was an absolute star and was self-motivated from the off. She would look for jobs rather than wait to be asked and seemed to particularly enjoy interacting with the young readers and their families. Katy enthused them through her own love of books."
Building relationships with readers
Katy particulary enjoyed working with people as this is where she felt she could make the most difference. She gradually found that she went from being shy, and unable to start conversations with strangers to someone who felt comfortable doing this.
"By the end of the summer I was going to the children and starting conversations with them, something I had previously been unable to do, and since going back to school, my friends have mentioned the change in me becoming more outgoing and talkative."
Katy's confidence grew and grew. She went from talking to children about the books they were reading, to holding conversations with parents, and understanding how to build relationships with readers.
"I really enjoyed talking to the parents as well as the children because it helped me become more confident speaking to people I don't know... I've bonded with several of the participants of the challenge as I'm able to talk to them easily without any inhibitions."
Katy is now a regular volunteer on Saturdays helping with children's activities and keeping up those relationships she built during the summer. She is a fantastic advocate for libraries and volunteering.
"I would strongly recommend that others take up this opportunity because it teaches you so much, not just about libraries and work but about you as well. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of volunteering because it helped me develop as a person by making me more confident and sociable."
We'd love to hear more stories about young volunteers involved in this year's Summer Reading Challenge. Contact Kathleen Ktorides and share your story.
Find out about other ways for young people to get involved