Current Volunteer Opportunities

May 2017 Volunteer Opportunities

No experience or training is necessary to volunteer with students as a writing, research or art coach, or in another active role.

To sign up, contact volunteer@behindthebook.org with each program code, date, and time you’d like. After you’re confirmed, the program coordinator will follow up closer to the date with details about the curriculum, your role as a volunteer, and any other information you’ll need. 

If you must cancel, please let us know as soon as possible. Volunteer spots can fill quickly, so please check this page regularly for updates. We’ll also alert you to new programs by email, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you haven’t volunteered before, please complete our brief questionnaire.


Program 2412RG-G (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time: Thursday, May 4th • 9:00 – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Second-graders read Robbin Gourly’s Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis, a woman chef and early champion of purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and farm-to-table food. Accompanied by the author and volunteer chaperones, students will visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden to explore plants and flowers. Robbin will talk about writing her book to inspire students to make their own connections to cooking and sharing meals. Writing coaches will guide small groups in the classroom as they revise their writing about traditions associated with a favorite family recipe. Program Coordinator: Nicole Daniels

Program 44SA-F (Washington Heights) NEW

Date & Time: Monday, May 8th •  9:00 – 10:15 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Selina Alko’s The Case for Loving, about the landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, is the basis for fourth-graders to study how US laws have changed to better protect human rights, and determine if current laws go far enough. To reinforce their research, students will take a field trip to the United Nations, where they‘ll be introduced to the Security Council’s work promoting human rights. Coaches will guide them in writing about what they’ve learned.  Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program 15412KM-J (Harlem) 

Date & Time 1: Tuesday, May 9th • 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM RESCHEDULED TIME
Volunteer Role: Research coach

Date & Time 2: Tuesday, May 16th • 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM RESCHEDULED TIME
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: This combined first- and second-grade class learned about various worms, their anatomy, and their role in helping fertilize soil with We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey. After meeting with the author, students will work with research coaches to find facts about a “garden helper” of their choice. Writing coaches will guide them in reaching final drafts of their reports on a bee, butterfly, ladybug or worm. Program Coordinator: Myra Hernandez

Program 44SA-T (Washington Heights) NEW

Date & Times: Thursday, May 11th • Two consecutive classes: 8:30 – 9:30 AM and 9:40 – 10:40 AM (you can sign up for one or both time slots)
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Selina Alko’s The Case for Loving, about the landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, is the basis for fourth-graders to study how US laws have changed to better protect human rights, and determine if current laws go far enough. To reinforce their research, students will take a field trip to the United Nations, where they‘ll be introduced to the Security Council’s work promoting human rights. Coaches will guide them in writing about what they’ve learned.  Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program EA6ZE-M (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time: Thursday, May 11th • 11:20 AM – 12:55 PM FULL
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Zetta Elliott’s powerful story Bird, about a boy who learns that his love for drawing is a way to process the challenges his family faces from his brother’s addiction, inspired sixth-graders to write a poem about how they’ve overcome obstacles. Writing coaches will guide students in reaching their final drafts. Program Coordinator: Nicole Daniels

Program 212WG-W (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time: Friday, May 12th • 9:30 – 11:00 AM FULL
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Second-graders read Bottle Cap Boys by Rita Williams-Garcia, about two African-American brothers who make tap shoes with bottle caps so they can dance in the street. After researching the rich history of New Orleans and its cultural contributions, students will create musical instruments with found objects. Writing coaches will help them finalize essays based on their research and experience making instruments. Program Coordinator: Myra Hernandez

Program 2411TH-F (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time 1: Tuesday, May 16th • 9:00 – 11:45 AM
Volunteer Role: Field trip chaperone

Date & Time 2: Friday, May 19th • 8:45 – 10:00 AM FULL
Volunteer Role: Art coach

Date & Time 3: Tuesday, May 23rd • 9:00 – 10:00 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: First-graders read Fraidyzoo by author/illustrator Thyra Heder, about a little girl who’s forgotten why she’s afraid to go to the zoo, so her family creates homemade costumes to help her remember. Volunteers will accompany students on a field trip to Prospect Park Zoo, where they’ll choose an animal. Art coaches will help them make masks, just like the characters in the book. Writing coaches will guide them in editing their written pieces about their animal. Program Coordinator: Nicole Daniels

Program 1251TH-L (Harlem) 

Date & Time: Thursday, May 18th • 9:00 – 10:00 AM FULL
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Students read Tad Hills‘ bestseller Rocket Writes A Story, about a puppy who wants to write a story, but can’t decide on a topic. The first-graders will meet with the author, then—just like Rocket—take an “inspiration walk” to come up with ideas for their own stories. Coaches will assist them in writing about something that excites them. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans

Program 984MK-V (Inwood) NEW

Date & Time: Thursday, May 18th • 9:30 – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: This fourth-grade class read Michelle Knudsen’s Argus, the story of Sally and the egg she hatches for a science class project. Argus is not a chick—he’s green and scaly with yellow eyes—but Sally comes to appreciate what makes him unique. The author will lead workshops that help students synthesize the book’s concepts and themes, and will discuss her craft. Writing coaches will guide small groups editing personal narratives about something different or unique about themselves that they’ve come to celebrate. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program 1252SW-S (Harlem) 

Date & Time: Tuesday, May 23rd • 9:00 – 10:15 AM FULL
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: Second-graders met with author Sharon Dennis Wyeth, whose Something Beautiful tells the story of a girl who learns to find beauty in unexpected places. Students will identify an aspect of their neighborhood that could be improved, then write a persuasive letter to a city official to voice their concerns and offer suggestions. They’ll also visit DeWitt Clinton High School‘s famous garden to witness weeding, planting, and composting. Coaches will work with small groups to help them polish their writing. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans

Program 241KPB-B (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time 1: Thursday, May 25th • 9:00 – 10:00 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing coach

Overview: To delve into conflict resolution, friendship, and life in the Arctic, kindergartners read Virgil & Owen, Paulette Bogan’s story of a penguin who befriends a lost polar bear. Writing coaches will work with small groups as they edit their reports on an animal from the region. Program Coordinator: Nicole Daniels

More dates to come!