Many library services have found that working with young volunteers has really helped enhance the experience for children and families participating in the Challenge during the busy summer period. Meanwhile volunteers have the opportunity to develop fantastic new skills and gain experience for their CVs. Last year 6,790 volunteers aged 12-24 help support the Challenge in libraries.
An evaluation of our Reading Hack programme conducted by OPM in 2018 found that library volunteering provides young people with opportunities to build their confidence, be more independent and take initiative; enables them to develop transferable skills that improve their employability; and empowers them to make a positive difference to their local community. Read the full report here.
Young people can also use their volunteering hours to fulfil the volunteering section of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteer roles will vary by library authority but certain tasks are commonly undertaken.
Common volunteer roles include:
Helping staff to sign children up to the Summer Reading Challenge
Helping children to choose new books
Talking to children about the books they've been reading
Giving out incentive items and certificates as children progress through the Challenge
Helping to promote and lead summer activities such as craft sessions, story-times and coding clubs
Helping to create in-library displays
Planning and running celebration events for other young volunteers
Hear from young volunteers in Sutton and Croydon on their Summer Reading Challenge experiences below:
Benefits for libraries
Support with the time-consuming work involved in delivering the Summer Reading Challenge and associated activities
The enthusiasm and fresh perspective of young people
Strengthening links with local communities
Increased staff confidence in working positively with young people
If you're a young person hoping to volunteer with the Summer Reading Challenge this year, get in touch with your local library to find out about opportunities in your area.
Visit the Reading Hack website to share activity ideas and reading recommendations with other young volunteers.
Librarians can visit our Resources page to find materials including toolkits to support the development of a youth volunteering offer, volunteer recruitment and volunteer training.
We encourage 13-24 year olds to use the library, volunteer, and inspire others to read.
Our Reading Well titles also use reading as a tool to support young people’s health and wellbeing.