Learning to read is one of the most important steps in a child’s life, laying the vital foundation for future knowledge and education. Research proves that shared book reading and access to books in the home during a child’s first, formative years are the strongest predictors of early literacy skills. This is what they do at Start Making a Reader Today (SMART).

Founded in 1992, SMART’s literacy model engages community volunteers across Oregon to read one-on-one with PreK through third-grade children for one hour per week during the school year.

SMART volunteers model reading aloud and ignite a love of reading in children, helping build literacy skills and self-confidence. SMART students also receive up to 14 new books to take home and keep each year.


Notes from today’s presentation:

  • SMART literacy volunteers read one-on-one weekly with their students throughout the year. The program begins in October each year and ends in May.
  • 300 schools, 5000 volunteers, and over 10000 PreK-3rd grade students participate in SMART throughout Oregon.
  • In Lane County, 21 sites, 500 volunteers, and over 1100 students participate.
  • Volunteers attend a one hour training before the beginning of the program year. Their hour per week commitment is at the same time and day each week. There are substitutes in case a week is missed.
  • Some volunteers become substitutes if they cannot commit to one hour every week.
  • You can apply any time, including after October to become a volunteer.