If your idea of a perfect day somehow includes books, you’ll love these volunteer opportunities. Because you’d be interacting with clients in many situations, many of these opportunities require training and background checks. But if you enjoy sharing your love of reading with others, there are a number of ways to get involved.
Help provide books to inmates: Inside Books Project helps fulfill book requests for people who are incarcerated. Volunteers open letters from inmates and select books from the troves of donated books to try to fulfill their request. Then then package up the books for mailing. Volunteers must attend a training and orientation. More information here.
Help unload and sort books: BookSpring puts more books in kids’ homes and promotes reading-aloud activities for low-income families. You can sign up for shifts to help unbox and sort books to be distributed to these families. Opportunities are all week, including the weekend. Learn more here.
Read to children in the doctor’s office waiting room: Reach Out and Read is a program at People’s Community Clinic that enlists volunteers to read to children in the waiting room. Being bilingual is helpful, but if you can read children’s books in Spanish, that works too. Volunteer shifts are 3-4 hours and are available all week from 8 am to 5 pm. Learn more here.
Help sort and shelve books: Austin Public Library’s Recycled Reads is looking for volunteers to support their used and recycled books. Volunteers take on weekly shifts from 6-7 hours long at the bookstore. Proceeds from the Recycled Reads bookstore benefit the Austin Public Libraries. Learn more here.
Help record audiobooks: Talking Book Program is part of the Texas State Library & Archives Commission, and they are seeking people to train to be reviewers, monitors, and narrators of books. It takes a team of detail-oriented people to create an audiobook, and each of these volunteers plays a role. To be a narrator, volunteers must have worked in the studio for a minimum of six months before they can audition. Learn more about he program by reaching out to Stephen Miles Lewis.
Read to kids in foster care who are also in the hospital: The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is looking for volunteers to sit with children while they are in the hospital. Children and youth who are in foster care and are hospitalized, must be under adult supervision at all times. Caring adults can keep them company, read them books, talk about books, and otherwise be a comfort to them. This is a great opportunity for retired teachers, childcare professionals, and others who enjoy nurturing children. Background checks are required, as is training. For more information, reach out to the volunteer coordinator in your area. Find that list here.