Current Volunteer Opportunities

December 2016 – January 2017 Volunteer Opportunities

No experience or training is necessary to work with students as a writing, research or art coach or field trip supervisor.

To sign up for one or more of the opportunities below, email the program code(s) and date/time(s) to volunteer@behindthebook.org. Once you’ve been confirmed, you’re all set. The program coordinator will follow up a few days before the date with details about the curriculum, your role in the classroom, and any other information you’ll need. Please let us know as soon as possible if you have to cancel.

Volunteer spots can fill quickly, so check this page regularly for updates. We also announce new program dates through Twitter and Facebook.

If you haven’t volunteered before, please complete the brief form to join our team and receive emailed updates of new opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.


Program 241RW128 (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)

Date & Time: Thursday, December 8th • 9:05 – 10:35 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Third-graders read Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson, the story of celebrated African-American cabaret singer, dancer, and comedian Florence Mills and her efforts to bring positive change to her Harlem community. The engaging story is the students’ inspiration to write about a problem they’d like to address in their own community. Writing coaches will assist them as they work on their current draft. Program Coordinator: Briana Harris

Program BALCB1208 (Bronx) NEW!

Date & Time 1: Thursday, December 8th • 11:26 AM – 1:08 PM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Date & Time 2: Monday, December 12th • 8:10 – 9:41 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Two sixth-grade classes read Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth as part of their “Survival Stories” unit.  A realistic tale set in inner-city Newark, the book reflects the complexities of modern life from the perspective of 11-year-old Jarrett. Students will write an informational essay in the form of a  short memoir that includes an important event in their life. Their writing and artwork will be published in a student book. Program Coordinator: Chris Fleming

Program 125IH1122 (Harlem)

Date & Time: Wednesday, December 14th • 9:40 – 11:10 AM FILLED
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: With Isabel Hill’s books Building Stories and Urban Animals, 2nd and 3rd graders will learn  basic architectural terms as they discover that buildings have stories to tell. With volunteers, students will tour their school’s neighborhood and take photographs of the interesting architecture that surrounds them. Research coaches will help them use books and computers to find facts about the subjects of their photos. Writing coaches will work with students to take the first draft of their narrative to the next level. The class’s photographs and written work will become a published book. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans

Program DWCDO1215 (Bronx)

Date & Times: Thursday, December 15th • 10:45 – 11:33 AM & 11:38AM – 12:24 PM
(Volunteers can participate in one or both sessions)
Volunteer Role: Art Coach

Overview: Two classes of 11th-grade students read Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, an urban fantasy tale set in present-day Brooklyn. Guided by the author and using his book as a model, students will add a fantastic element to a story set in their own neighborhood. Writing coaches will help them edit their final work. Art coaches will guide groups as they create a visual to accompany their stories. Their work will be published in a book. Program Coordinator: Chris Fleming

Program DLMB1215 (Downtown Manhattan) NEW!

Date & Time 1: Thursday, December 15th • 1:15 – 2:00 PM
Volunteer Role:
Research Coach

Date & Time 2: Tuesday, January 10th • 1:15 – 2:45 PM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: This 12th-grade English class will read Marina Budhos’s Watched, a novel that examines what it means to grow up in the age of surveillance. They’ll discuss its themes and ideas with the author, as well as her writing and revision process. Using the book as inspiration, each student will research and write an article relating to identity and/or surveillance. Their writing will be collected in a magazine that also features their artwork. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program DEPK1219 (Washington Heights) NEW!

Date & Time 1: Monday, December 19th • 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Volunteer Role:
Research Coach

Date & Time 2: Friday, January 20th • 9:30 – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Third-grade students read Drumbeat in Our Feet by Patricia Keeler to learn about African dance, instruments, and traditions. The author will highlight the geography and cultural elements of different African countries and regions. Guided by research and writing coaches, students will write an informative paragraph on one of those countries, including basic information and fun facts they’ve discovered. They’ll also create artwork to accompany their writing. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program 125JH1220 (Harlem) — NEW!

Date & Time 1: Tuesday, December 20th • 9:45 – 11:20 AM FILLED
Volunteer Role: Research Coach

Date & Time 2: Tuesday, January 10th • 9:45 – 11:20 AM
Volunteer Role: Art Coach

Date & Time 3: Tuesday, January 17th • 9:45 – 11:20 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: This fourth-grade Special Education class is reading Jessie Hartland’s book How the Meteor Got to the Museum, the amazing story of how a billion-year-old rock from outer space ends up in the American Museum of Natural History. Students will write about different jobs at the museum, which they’ll visit to do research, interview staff members, and ultimately create a mural to enliven their writing. For a final project, they’ll act as docents, and explain their findings to their families and school staff. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans