10 Reading Volunteer Opportunities

Carolina Ciucci


Carolina Ciucci is a teacher, writer and reviewer based in the south of Argentina. She hoards books like they’re going out of style. In case of emergency, you can summon her by talking about Ireland, fictional witches, and the Brontë family. Twitter: @carolinabeci

‘Tis the season! Which season exactly varies, as December is full of commemorations: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Ōmisoka, among others. For me personally, this is a time for rereads of A Christmas Carol and rewatches of It’s a Wonderful Life, for decorating my tree (and keeping my cat from destroying it), for buying presents and finding ways to give back. The latter is by no means exclusive to Christmas, though — one thing that most holidays have in common? They put people in a giving state of mind. So, if you’d like to help make somebody’s life just that little bit brighter this December, consider reading volunteer opportunities at one of these organizations.

Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Are you based in or near Chicago? Would you like to spend a few weekends helping match requests with books from the organization’s inventory and prepare packages for mailing? Then look no further than this. Note: because the volunteers meet in the basement of a church, these reading volunteer opportunities aren’t wheelchair-accessible.


Most of the volunteer opportunities here have geographic limitations, but ProLiteracy has nationwide reach — which means that you can volunteer from almost anywhere in the United States. Want to give an adult the gift of literacy? This is a way to do that.

Girls Write Now

If you’d like to mentor a girl (cis and trans), trans boy or man, or nonbinary person, this is the program for you. As a mentor, you’ll work with your mentee from a set curriculum in order to help them create multi-genre, multimedia writing, as well as help them prepare for college.

Writers in Residence

It’s no secret that I love this organization. If you do too, consider starting a cohort to facilitate writing workshops for incarcerated youth or becoming a mentor to a young person transitioning outside of the prison system.

826 National

This organization offers writing workshops and field trips for kids. Want to help? Volunteer to lead a book club or workshop, to do after- and in-school tutoring, to copy-edit and proofread participants’ work, or to join a field trip. The amount of time you can contribute is up to you.

United for Literacy

If you’re based in Canada, United for Literacy is the answer. They’re not restricted to a single region, which means that you can volunteer from across the country. Join the volunteer ranks to tutor people of all ages in literacy and math, to offer conversation programs for new Canadians, and more.

Literacy Connects

Based in Tucson and focused primarily on South Arizona (although they’re expanding one of their programs nationwide!), Literacy Connects lives up to its name. You can volunteer to become an English Language Acquisition for Adults teacher, a reading seed coach for children, a library assistant, and a library courier.

Reach Out and Read

You can help this incredible organization by donating books and reading to children at select program sites. They also encourage you to tell your elected representatives about the power of their work.

BookGive Denver

Join BookGive in their mission to distribute books from their service station to individuals, schools, and organizations across metro Denver. There are several positions you could volunteer for, depending on your skill set.

World Literacy Foundation

Most of the organizations on this list are U.S.-based. World Literacy Foundation is a global nonprofit, so no matter where you are in the world, you are able to contribute your time and efforts.

That’s it! If you have the chance, don’t let this month pass by without making the effort to give back with one of these reading volunteer opportunities. Make sure to check with your local library in case they’re taking volunteers, too.