Family Services - Youth Behavioral Health & Adult Disabilities - Gallagher & Villa programs

Behavioral Health - Working with Youth - Book Buddies - relational reading partnerships

Reading aloud to children has been determined to be “the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading.” [citation] That’s compelling at Villa Maria School, where children are largely working below grade level in reading -- sometimes by multiple grades. Besides academics, VMS school children are addressing emotional and behavioral challenges that keep them from participating in general education settings, therefore the psychological and relational payoffs of listening to stories are also a boon to treatment.

Reading partners, or “Book Buddies,” will partner with one child in a third grade classroom to read stories aloud and build a positive relationship. Once a week, during the school day, volunteers will join a student either in-person (preferred) or in a virtual setting (backup) to share a story by reading aloud and engaging in conversation.

Volunteer candidates must be consistent, positive, patient, flexible, and adept at appreciating “What’s strong” instead of “What’s wrong.” If engaging virtually, we require individuals who are tech-competent, comfortable using the full-functionality of the Zoom platform; who are expressive, and possess clear diction – qualities that will be essential when engaging children through a virtual platform.


Commitment: 45 minutes total, once a week for two school semesters (mid-October through mid-June). Tentatively, Book Buddies will arrive Tuesdays at 12:20. Children arrive 12:30 PM. Active reading time is up to 30 minutes, ending by 1:00 PM. 

Pre-Service Training (orientation for all new volunteers): Weeknight from 6-8PM - opportunities are scheduled quarterly

Mentor Trauma Training (required for all volunteers who serve in one-to-one roles with children): Weeknight 6-9 PM via Zoom (opportunities are scheduled 3/year)

Book Buddy Training: September 2024, two 1-hour sessions at Villa Maria School

To apply, please click where prompted "I would like to volunteer." Background checks will be required as well as influenza vaccination.

Qualifications Required

  • Child Protective Services check Must be at least Submitted to DSS
  • Influenza Vaccination Must be at least Vaccination received
  • Interview Must be Interview complete
  • MSDE Background Check Must be Complete
  • Policy forms Must be at least Completed
  • Pre-Service Training (2 hr. training) Must be at least Completed PST
  • Reference check Must be at least 2 clear
  • Sterling Volunteers Criminal Background Check Must be at least Clear
  • Tuberculosis risk screening Must be at least Questionnaire cleared by Director of Nursing

Schedule Summary

The next 10 shifts (out of 45 total shifts) for this activity are as follows

Date Start Time End Time
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, April 23, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, April 30, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, May 07, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, May 14, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, May 21, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, May 28, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, June 04, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, June 11, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, June 18, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM