Volunteers are a vital part of the Reach Out and Read program. Explore opportunites below, or get started by finding a Program Site in your area and contacting a volunteer office.

Get started: Find a Program Site Near You

Would you like to discuss other volunteer opportunities?  Contact us

Read to Children

One of the three cornerstones of the Reach Out and Read model is to create a literacy-rich environment in the waiting rooms of Reach Out and Read Programs. Volunteer readers help to show parents just how much fun reading with children can be, and they provide helpful tips for getting children excited about books.


Here are some FAQs about becoming a volunteer reader at a Reach Out and Read program:

How old must I be?
Anyone can be a volunteer, although Reach Out and Read volunteers are typically adults or older teenagers from the surrounding community with a desire to spend time reading to young children. Some health centers have age requirements that prevent younger teenagers or children from volunteering in the clinic. We encourage children interested in volunteering to consider organizing a book drive in their schools or communities.

How do I get started?
The first step is to find a Reach Out and Read program in the neighborhood or community where you would like to volunteer. Next, contact the program and ask to speak with the Reach Out and Read coordinator or the volunteer office. Let the person you speak with know that you are interested in volunteering with the Reach Out and Read program, reading aloud to children in the pediatric waiting room. Once you are connected with the right person, he or she will walk you through the rest of the steps to get started. If you need helping finding a program site to work with, contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.

Is there a screening process?
Most hospitals and health centers require new volunteers to go through a screening. Requirements vary, depending on the health center, but they may include completing an application, a medical screening, a background check, and/or an interview.

How often will I be expected to volunteer?
You don’t have to volunteer every week, but it is most helpful if you set up a schedule with the clinic including regular hours. Many volunteers do come once per week, but you can make arrangements with your Reach Out and Read Program to volunteer as frequently as your schedule permits.

What can I expect as a volunteer reader?
As a volunteer reader in the waiting room, your role is to provide a positive reading experience for the children, and to model reading aloud for parents. Some parents may have never seen good reading aloud techniques themselves. You may find yourself reading to one child or to a group of children, depending on how busy the clinic is at the time.

Not all Reach Out and Read waiting rooms have had readers before, so the experience may be new for everyone involved. Volunteering in a clinic waiting room is a special task. Remembering that some children you will see have never been read to at home can help to keep your experience in perspective, particularly when dealing with children who are reluctant, rowdy, or restless.

If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity with Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, contact us at info@reachoutandreadnyc.org or call 646-237-0103.

Organize a Book Drive

Everyone knows how expensive high quality children’s books can be. That’s why community book drives are an important source of support for thousands of Reach Out and Read Programs nationwide. Donations of both new and gently used books for children are always appreciated.

Guidelines for Book Donations

Guidelines for BOOK DONATIONS

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York is happy to accept new and used children’s books according to the following guidelines. These guidelines were developed out of respect for the families of the children we serve and in keeping with the mission of Reach Out and Read that children grow up with books and a love of reading.

New Books
Donations of new books are very welcome and should be:

  • Developmentally appropriate for children ages 6 months to 5 years of age
  • Not be on subjects such as religion, death, divorce, or medical issues

If you would like suggestions of appropriate books, check our Annotated Book List of favorite books for children ages 6 months to 5 years of age, on our Parent Resources page.

Used Books
Used books are given to siblings accompanying a child at a well child visit at Reach Out and Read Programs or put in waiting areas to create literacy rich environments.

Used books are welcome at any Reach Out and Read Site but should meet the following criteria:

  • Be gently used (covers and pages intact, clean and unmarked pages)
  • Books may be for the following age groups: infants up to and including teenagers/young adults
  • No textbooks
  • No used coloring or activity books
  • No books with themes such as death, religion, holidays, divorce or abuse

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York reserves the right to decline book donations that are not in keeping with our mission to provide children with high- quality books that nurture a love of reading.

Depending on the number of books/boxes, books can be delivered to the Reach Out and Read of Greater New York central office in midtown Manhattan. Contact us to coordinate delivery.

Alternatively, books may be delivered directly to a local program site. Reach Out and Read Coordinators are often unable to pick up books, so arrangements to deliver donations should be discussed with the Coordinator.

  • Find a Reach Out and Read site near you
  • Contact the Reach Out and Read coordinator to verify the time and place of delivery
  • Determine if you will need help unloading the books and call ahead to make arrangements for assistance
Book Drive Planning Tools

If you are interested in organizing a book drive for a Reach Out and Read Program in your region, here are some suggestions to help in your planning. In addition, please see our Guidelines for Book Donations, above. These guidelines were developed out of respect for families and in keeping with the philosophy of Reach Out and Read – every child deserves quality, appropriate books.

Find a Reach Out and Read Program in need of books through our interactive map or by contacting us at info@reachoutandreadnyc.org.

  • Contact the Program directly to determine what its greatest needs are (new board books for babies, used books for the waiting room, etc.) and whether the clinic has additional guidelines for donated books. Note: Reach Out and Read only distributes new children’s books in the exam room during regular pediatric checkups, but used books are often used in the waiting room, given away to children who come for a sick visit, or given to siblings who don’t have an appointment that day, but would like a book to take home as well.
  • Donated books should be developmentally-appropriate and culturally-appropriate
  • For a list of suggested children’s books, refer to the Annotated Book List for Children.
  • Used books must be “gently-used” (covers and pages intact, clean, and readable).
  • Hardcover picture books with brightly-colored pictures and interesting stories are ideal.
  • Reach Out and Read’s focus is on children between the ages of 6 months through 5 years, although books for older children may be accepted, depending on the needs of individual Programs.
  • Books about sensitive issues like divorce, abuse, or death cannot be accepted, nor can books which include any reference to religious worship, instruction, or proselytization.
  • Because Reach Out and Read Programs are run by clinic volunteers, it’s best if you can drop the books directly at the clinic.

Below are materials to help promote your book drive or fundraising event. The materials can also be customized for your Site, upon request.

Book Drive Flier – with Reach Out and Read bunny illustration

Book Drive Flier – with photos

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York Fact Sheet

Book Quality Guidelines for New and Used Book Donations

Join the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors meets quarterly and, as a local board, members provide leadership and guidance to the Greater New York Reach Out and Read coalition. Members serve as public ambassadors of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York and help to ensure the success of the organization. Members engage in fundraising efforts, support strategic planning decision, provide advice and guidance to the Executive Director and serve as public ambassadors for the organization. The board maintains a goal of 100% participation in financially supporting Reach Out and Read of Great New York and sets annual fundraising goals.


Join the Young Leaders Executive Board

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York’s Young Leaders Executive Board aims to engage the next generation of Reach Out and Read volunteers and supporters through the creation of events, a speaker series, and other opportunities to interact directly with Reach Out and Read Programs. The Young Leaders Executive Board meets on a monthly basis.


Contact us to discuss your interest in joining either our Board of Directors or Young Leaders Executive Board.

Copyright 2019 Reach Out And Read Greater New York