Volunteer Reading Help is celebrating its 30th birthday with a recruitment drive for volunteers (it's already notched up three million hours helping 80,000 child readers). Reading Reborn: the book-hook campaign was launched at the British Library on Tuesday. The backbone of the organisation is the network of helpers who read one-to-one with six to 12-year-olds in schools, but special projects include work with children in care and crime prevention. The last annual schools survey (2002) showed improved reading ability and confidence from 83 per cent of children.
Reading volunteers are paired with the same child twice a week through the school year and must be able to offer a regular commitment, but help is also needed with fundraising and one-off administrative tasks. You can also donate skills (for example ICT, design) or money. See www.vrh.org.uk, ring 0845 601 4008 for an information pack or make a donation on 0870 7744300.
If you've already got a male reading volunteer (from Volunteer Reading Help, a local business or anywhere else) encouraging boys to read in your school, you can nominate him as a Reading Champion. Any other male teacher, parent, grandparent, teaching assistant, big brother or little brother is eligible. See www.readon.org.ukchampions.html or tel: 020 7828 2435 by November 4, and your champion could be invited to a celebration in London in December.
You'll also find on the site all the existing Reading Champions in your region and find reading role models from Michael Palin and Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent to Dean Simpson, a Year 11 student from Huddersfield, who is a "reading buddy" to a reception class.
The Orange Word festival in London from October 29 has its own reading champions programme of crowd-pleasing authors on West End stages. Michael Moore (Palladium, November 9, 8.30pm) is the hottest ticket, with one show already sold out (bookings on 020 7494 5056, tickets pound;10). The rest of the programme, including Helen Fielding (November 5), Jacqueline Wilson (November 12), Carlos Fuentes (November 26) and Nick Hornby (December 9), is at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, all shows 6-7pm, pound;5 (020 7494 5530). See: www.orangeword.co.uk for availability.