Teen siblings volunteering at the library

Multnomah County Library’s Summer Reading program encourages kids, teens, and families to read throughout the summer. With hundreds of kids signed up each year to participate, Summer Reading relies on youth volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. Volunteers hand out the gameboards at library branches, explain how the game works, and give out prizes. Most of a Summer Reading player’s interactions are with the youth volunteers!

Talia is a new volunteer. She was encouraged by her oldest sister to spend her summer at the library. Talia's sister began volunteering at Rockwood Library as an 8th grader— she is now graduating high school!

Four Summer Reading volunteers smiling at the camera
It’s fun. I really enjoy volunteering because I get to hang out with kids, some of my siblings and friends.

Talia is also participating in the Summer Reading program as a reader and has been checking out more books since she began volunteering.

“I’ve gotten like 16 books so far and I’ve read like 5 or 6 of them already,” says Talia.

Twelve-year old twins, Micah and Xavier, spent this past summer volunteering at Kenton Library. Though it was their first time volunteering for Summer Reading, they have participated in the game for as long as they can remember, Micah notes.

A set of twin volunteers seated at a Summer Reading table in the library

Micah and Xavier are avid readers and Oregon Battle of the Books competitors. They often read for “at least two hours each day,” says Micah. When asked if they had any book recommendations, Xavier said “Yes; too many!” They both love fantasy books, and at the top of their list are The Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson and the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.

Siblings Haben, Amen, and Eden are volunteering together at Fairview-Columbia Library. Haben is the oldest of the three, and he was just eight when he started volunteering with Summer Reading. Haben is now a freshman in high school, and is volunteering with his two siblings. But he isn’t the only one with Summer Reading knowledge; all three siblings have participated as readers in the past.

Three teen volunteers seated at a Summer Reading table in the library

“I actually wanted to volunteer since I’ve been doing the reading logs,” says Eden, the second oldest of the trio. “I also enjoy talking to the kids… it’s nice to meet new people.”

Amen, the youngest, agrees: “I like to help kids find books and give them coupons!”

In between helping summer readers, Amen likes to color and spend time with her siblings. Haben’s top recommendations for books are barbecue cookbooks – in particular those with recipes for brisket or ribs.

“I like graphic novels”, says Eden. “One graphic novel I would recommend for ages 10 and up is called Amulet.”

In addition to having fun, youth volunteers have the opportunity to develop new skills, gain confidence and build their leadership skills.

Volunteers who return year after year, increase their skill through serving in leadership roles and organizing, scheduling, and training new volunteers at their locations,” says Becky Blumer, volunteer services manager. “We frequently hear from young readers that they look up to volunteers and hope to volunteer one day. Thank you, Summer Reading volunteers, for your service and for inspiring our next generation of readers!”

Summer Reading is supported by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library’s leadership, innovation and reach through private support.