Man reading in a classroom with a young girl

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a Reading Mentor?

Apply here and complete a Sterling Volunteers background check.

What are the qualifications to be a Reading Mentor?

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and pass a background check (or submit a current clearance). No tutoring or educational experience required.

What is the time commitment?

Reading Sessions take place once a week on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from September to May. They are typically during the lunch hour and last 30 minutes. You only need to be at the school five minutes before your session to get signed in and walk to the classroom. The sessions end promptly after 30 minutes, and you leave the school at that time.

View the Reading Session schedule.

I can't commit to weekly Reading Sessions. Can I still volunteer?

Yes, we have three options for Reading Mentors:

Weekly – You read with the same student each week of the school year. If you must miss a session, let your Site Coordinator know. They can arrange for a Flextra to fill in for you.

Shared – You share a student with a friend, coworker or family member, and are paired with the same student for the school year. One of you attends the weekly Reading Session.

Flextra – You read at least once a month and as often as you are able. You fill in for weekly mentors who are absent and read with a different student each time.

If you’re not available during the lunch hour, which is when our Reading Sessions take place, you can still volunteer in other ways.

Do I get to choose the school where I read?

Yes, you may pick any of the schools we are working with for the current school year. Check out the Reading Session schedule and a map of our partner schools to find the best fit for you.

What do I do when I arrive at the school?

Each school has a Lead to Read KC Site Coordinator who will be your primary contact. They will let you know when to arrive, where to park, and which classroom and student you will be reading with. Typically, Reading Mentors meet in the school lobby five minutes before the session and walk to the classrooms together.

Do I need to bring books to a reading session?

No, the students come with books. They will have a few books they can read, one that might be a stretch, and one that you can read to them. You are welcome to bring appropriate books to read with them, but they must be screened by the Site Coordinator and may not be given to the student to keep.

You will have an opportunity at the end of each semester to gift your student a book that you purchase or choose from a selection from Lead to Read KC.

How will I know what to do with my student?

Volunteer onboarding includes an online training video with the basics. In the classroom, your Site Coordinator will help you get to know your student and their reading level, as well as provide reading tips and tricks. If the student is an emerging reader, you may be sounding out letter sounds and working on sight words. If the student is more advanced, you may be listening and helping them with expression and comprehension by asking questions about the text.

Will I have the same student every week?

If you are a weekly or shared Reading Mentor, you will be matched with the same student for the entire school year, as long as they are enrolled at that school. We do have students that move often.

Our Flextra mentors fill in for absent weekly mentors, so they will have a different student each session.

What if I'm unable to attend a Reading Session or going out of town for multiple weeks?

If you can’t attend a Reading Session, contact your Site Coordinator as soon as possible, ideally at least 24 hours in advance. We will do our best to have a Flextra read with your student that week.

If you’re going on vacation and will miss multiple weeks, please tell your Site Coordinator as soon as the plans are set to allow ample time to make arrangements.

Can I take a picture of my student and me to share with family or on social media?

No, Reading Mentors may NOT photograph, videotape or record students or the Reading Sessions. Lead to Read KC occasionally posts pictures, and mentors are encouraged to share those posts with their networks.

If you’d especially like to be included in a Lead to Read KC social media post, ask your Site Coordinator to take your photo at a convenient time and request they share it with the Social Media Manager along with your social media accounts, so you can be tagged.

Can I give my student a gift?

No, Reading Mentors may NOT give their student any gifts, including birthday cards or similar. You will have the opportunity to give your student a book at the end of each semester.

Are there Reading Sessions over the summer?

No, we do not have Reading Sessions during the summer. If you’d like to stay involved during that time, check out other ways to get involved.

For more information on what is and is not allowed, please refer to the Volunteer Code of Conduct. If you still have questions, please email

“I hung out with several students as a Flextra during my first semester. Helping students with drastically different reading levels in the same grade showed me how much Lead to Read KC is needed.”


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We need you! There are so many ways to be part of the solution to our community’s literacy crisis. Choose to give your time or resources to Lead to Read KC.