Reading Volunteers! Programs and Resources

 So Your School Wants to Start a Reading Volunteer Program…

Questions to start with:

  • What is the goal of your volunteer program? Do you want to increase test scores? Do you want to make a culture of reading in your school?
  • Who is your target population? Accelerated readers? Remedial Readers? Bilingual students? Older students? Younger students?
  • Will the program take place during school hours or after school?
  • How will you recruit your volunteers? Who will coordinate your volunteers? How can you use family members and staff?  Can you use older students?
  • What resources will you use?
  • Who will be your book and reading “expert”?
  • How will you show appreciation for your volunteers?

The Odyssey Charter School Reading Volunteer Program in Denver CO 2001 to the Present

The Odyssey School reading volunteer program started with seven volunteers for struggling readers in second and third grade.  Now  due to demand, every student in the school in grades 2-8 has a volunteer one-on-one or in a small group.. (Kindergarten and first grader’s parents are encouraged to read with their own children.)  The purpose of the program is for the mutual enjoyment of the student and the volunteer. Each class has one day of the week when volunteers blanket the class room  at the start of the school day. Most volunteers live within a 15 minute drive of the school.  The Odyssey  library is in a dynamic relationships with our volunteer bookgroups. We obtain the books  our volunteer bookgroups need. We have no official volunteer training.  Instead, volunteers make notes after each session and the coordinator responds to those notes with just the right books and instructions.  In addition, once a year each class of volunteers has a informal meeting  to talk about books and students with the class teacher. Finally, at the end of the year, the whole school celebrates the volunteers with an appreciation breakfast.

What are the results of our volunteer program?

There is a buzz in the air on volunteer mornings.  Our  state required reading  test scores are in the high 80’s and above. . 85% of our volunteers have volunteered for three of more years.    In a school of 240 students, with no designated library times, our library average 800 checkouts per month.


Be a Volunteer

 It  (Partners in Literacy) is an amazing reading volunteer program the Park Hill area from an Administrative and parent perspective. I would describe it as fulfilling, full of relationship building, challenging, consistent and truly unique. This program is currently at Odyssey Charter School, a K-8 Expeditionary Learning school in Denver. The program also was at Venture Prep Middle School for years and created a life changing love for literacy for many of the scholars who participated. As well as for the volunteers:)  Nicole Gryzbowski-Vice Principal Venture Prep High School

  • No classroom experience is needed.
  • Read with one or two students 50 minutes a week.
  • Receive ongoing training and support.
  •  Make a commitment for the  entire academic year
  • Make a difference in the life of a child and the life of the school.

“The reason I do this is to touch a child’s world and make a difference in their learning and the bigger picture: their lives.  I get just as much from the kids as they do,maybe more.”

-Shere Dayney,  Odyssey Reading Volunteer since 2001.

Reading Volunteers Needed for the 2017-2018  School Year

Odyssey School of Denver

The Odyssey School of Denver  is an Expeditionary Learning Charter School founded in 1998.  It serves students in Kindergarten through 8th grade with a total enrollment of 234 students. Fifty percent  are minority students.  Thirty percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch.  Odyssey School Calendar. Snow days.  It is located in the Park Hill neighborhood at the Northeast corner of Montview and Monaco. Its address is 6550 E. 21st and Denver, 80207.  If interested in volunteering, please call 303-316 3944 ext 241 or email

The times volunteers are needed at The Odyssey Charter School for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Tuesday:  Kindergarten /1st grades:  8:10 (am) to 8:50 (am)

Wednesday: 2nd/ 3rd  and  4th / 5th grades: 8:10(am) to 8:55 (am)

Thursday: 2nd/3rd and 6th grades: 8:10(am) to 8:55 (am)

Friday: 7th/8th  grades:  8:10 (am) to 9:00(am).

Volunteer profile and retention. Every child at Odyssey second- eighth grade has a reading volunteer.  Of those, over  60 % have volunteered for three  or more years.  It  is not unusual to stay with one students or group of students for many years.

20% of the are Odyssey staff.  40% are from families of the students.  40% are from the community.


Roots Elementary

Roots Elementary is in its third school year. in Denver located in the Park Hill neighborhood at 3350 Hudson Street 80207.   Practice at Roots is based on best practices from around the country and a radical new approach to time, talent and technology to create custom learning experiences for its scholars. In the 2017-2018 school year, Roots will serve students in Kindergarten through third grade.  2017-2018 will be the second year for the Partners in Literacy Reading Volunteers at Roots. If you are interested in being a reading volunteer, please call the Roots office at 720-593-1338 or email

Become a Roots Reader!  The times that volunteers are needed at Roots will be:

Tuesday and Friday mornings: 8:30 to 9:15.

Wyatt Academy

Wyatt academy is located at 362o Franklin Street.


Partners in Literacy reads with forty-seven 7th graders Wednesdays in two back-to-back afternoon sessions.  Each session will be about 50 minutes.  Volunteers can choose to be in one or both sessions. We will be starting this program  Wednesday November 1


Manual High School

Manual HIgh School is located at 1700 E. 28 Ave 80205 .  Its reading volunteer program, coordinated by Manual staff will be in its third year. Please contact Shaunay Vafeades at or 720-423-6311.

Library Volunteers Needed For the 2016-2017 School Year

Schools that need shelving, checking in and repairing book help include the Odyssey School of Denver and  Monaco  Elementary, Roots Elemetary.  Please email, Julie@partnersinliteracy for more information.



Resources for Volunteers

The following are useful PDF’s to help reading volunteers

Reading Documentation Forms:  

 Book  Log



Past Reading Volunteer Programs

Pioneer Charter 2015-2016

“We were so happy to have your program this year!”  Laurie Thompson, Pioneer Charter bookkeeper

Partners in Literacy Reading Volunteers shared reading with thirty-five 8th grade students.  Most students surprised themselves with how much they enjoyed reading with their volunteer. Partners in Literacy and the students at Pioneer Charter were privileged at having 5 Police officers from Distric 2 join us.




 Venture Prep 2011-2015

” I am so thrilled with the program and the kids are LOVING their time with the volunteers. I’ve had several scholars say, “I wish we had reading buddies everyday.”  Hector, my reading buddy, is so excited about Harry Potter that he has been talking with a British accent and went out and rented three of the Harry Potter movies this weekend!” Caroline Walsh,  6th grade teacher at Venture Prep.


We accompanied 35 Venture Prep students on their reading path from 6th grade to 8th grade graduation. As seventh graders,  fifty percent were at third grade reading level or lower. Two students could name an on-level favorite book.   At graduation, the median reading  level for all students was at a 8th grade level with one outlier. They  had read over 200 good books with their volunteers . Their  principal said that they were the class  the most prepared for high school of any class he had ever seen.

Author Traci L. Jones at Venture Prep Reading Volunteers Program Presentation

Author Traci L. Jones award winning author signs books for VP students.