Description & History

Behind the Book makes New York City public school students excited about reading. We bring authors and their books into low-income community classrooms to build literacy skills and nurture a new generation of readers by teaching students how to write and illustrate their very own books.

We're seeking volunteers to coach, engage, and support students as they work on their projects over the course of an author's program. As a volunteer in a K-12 classroom, you'll assist students in crafting stories or writing essays, help them produce their art projects, and/or accompany the class on field trips as part of their program.

No previous experience is necessary. BtB and school staff are always present in the classroom, and will guide you in your role for each project. 

Each author visit lasts from 90 minutes to two hours. Including travel time, you should plan on being away from your home or office for a few hours during a weekday morning or afternoon. Typically, you'll work with the same group of students in a classroom for three to five author visits, which will be spaced over one to three months. By committing to volunteer for all visits in a program series, you’ll provide our students with continuity and structure, and yourself with a deeper knowledge of both the class curriculum and the author’s program--as well as have a chance to get to know the students as you watch their class project develop.

Dates and times of classroom volunteer opportunities are set in advance, allowing you to accommodate your schedule. Before a visit date, you'll receive an email with details such as the type of project, the school’s location, directions, and your BtB staff member's contact information.

Please compete our questionnaire at so we may target your availability and areas of interest for volunteer opportunities.

About the organization

Behind The Book

Jo Umans
Executive Director
(212) 222-3627
Organization’s website: