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  • 558

    Reader Leaders

  • 10,900

    adults attended Shared Reading in 2022/23

  • 88%

    would recommend volunteering at The Reader to others

  • 93%

    said volunteering gives me a sense of achievement

Become a Reader Leader

Through a growing movement of volunteers and partners, we bring thousands of people together each week to share and discuss great novels, short stories and poems. There’s no pressure for group members to read aloud or speak; just listening is perfectly alright. We call this Shared Reading. Our Reader Leaders extend our mission to take Shared Reading to those who need it most. Our aim is to create an atmosphere of inclusivity, where everyone feels truly at home. 

You don’t need to be from a certain walk of life or a literature expert. Anyone who wants to help others is welcome to apply. 

What you get out of being a volunteer

  • Make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
  • Deepen your personal experience of reading.
  • Empower others to discover the joys of Shared Reading.
  • Be part of a passionate volunteer community.
  • Contribute to building a more connected and inclusive society.
  • Develop valuable interpersonal and facilitation skills.
  • Receive high quality training and ongoing support from The Reader.
  • Build confidence in a nurturing and supportive environment.
  • Take part in vibrant community gatherings and celebratory events.
  • Embark on a journey with an acclaimed, nationally recognised charity 

See the impact of Shared Reading at one of our weekly groups.

We are looking for someone with

  • A passion for bringing diverse people together in community.

  • Empathy, patience, the ability to listen and to hold a range of perspectives.

  • A desire to explore a range of literary texts and genres.

  • Commitment to engaging with the Reader Leader Pathway.

  • Reliability and commitment to leading a regular Shared Reading group

Your Commitment as a Reader Leader

  • You will lead a weekly Shared Reading group in a selected community setting e.g. a library, residential care home or mental health setting  
  • Complete the Read to Lead training programme and engage in three learning activities during your first year of practice.  
  • Learn to create a warm and inclusive space where group members feel able to contribute and share. 
  • Read aloud and guide discussions, drawing connections between the text and personal experiences.  
  • Spend time selecting suitable texts for Shared Reading and preparing them for discussions.  
  • Grow your Shared Reading group by promoting it through local networks, utilising your venue and connections.  
  • Submit online records of group attendance, literature shared, and observations about your group practice to demonstrate the impact of Shared Reading.  
  • Adhere to safeguarding procedures, addressing any concerns with The Reader’s Safeguarding Lead. ·  
  • Adhere to volunteer community support policies.  
  • Embrace The Reader Values, embody professionalism and represent The Reader to partners and communities.

How much time will I need to give?

The average weekly commitment will be up to four hours. This may vary depending on group location and duration, so for some it may be a bit less. Your weekly time commitment will include:  

  • Preparing your Shared Reading session  
  • Delivery of your Shared Reading group  
  • Completing your Reading Records  
  • Engaging in the Reader Leader Pathway

We ask for a minimum six-month commitment to ensure a consistent experience for both you and our group members. 

What training will I get?

Read to Lead will give you the skills and confidence needed to deliver your own Shared Reading group. Our online course is delivered over 6 weeks and is made up of 6 modules. These interactive modules will explore:
  • Module 1: The Shared Reading Experience
  • Module 2: Preparing to Share Literature
  • Module 3: Practicing Running a Group with Poetry
  • Module 4: Exploring Stories and Our Reading Communities
  • Module 5: Practicing Running a Group with a Story
  • Module 6: The Shared Reading Journey.
We aim to make our online course accessible to everyone. If you do have any questions or concerns about the online format however in relation to your own circumstances, we will be happy to talk through this with you and provide additional support as necessary.

Reader Leader Pathway: Developing Your Practice

Your Read to Lead training is just the beginning. We are committed to nurturing our Reader Leaders’ development and ask new Reader Leaders to participate in at least three learning activities during their first twelve months. These activities cover three key areas: 

  • Practical Shared Reading Delivery: We explore group promotion, group member recruitment, group dynamics, reading in specialised settings, and peer support.  
  • Exploring Literature: A space where Reader Leaders can discover new areas of literature.  
  • Shared Reading Experience: An opportunity for Reader Leaders to experience Shared Reading as group members. 

What ongoing support will I receive?

Our dedicated Support Team is ready to assist you with any queries you have and will provide a range of opportunities for you to grow and connect.  

  • Online Community Hub: Access our online treasure trove of resources, support, and valuable guidance.  
  • Stay connected: We cherish the sense of community and organise regular Reader Leader support meetings, drop-in sessions, and get-togethers.  
  • Feedback and Check-In Calls: Sharing your insights, especially if any concerns arise, ensures that we work together to enhance your experience.  
  • Expenses: We are pleased to offer volunteer-related expenses in accordance with our volunteer policy. 
  • We encourage you to let us know if you need help and support along the way
  • Shared Reflections: A key part of learning and growing as a Reader Leader is to welcome receiving a shared reflection. This involves a Reader staff member visiting your shared reading group to offer friendly, constructive feedback on your practice.
Two volunteers reading together at a support day

How do I become a Reader Leader?

The time it takes to get going will vary, however we find that the journey will take approximately three months and includes the following steps: