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Volunteer role description: Shared Reading Group Leader

Bring great literature to life through the practice of Shared Reading! Leicestershire Shared Reading is a voluntary organisation that follows the shared reading model developed by The Reader – a charity and social enterprise. The model uses a range of great literature to encourage the sharing of thoughts and experiences, allowing personal and social connections to be made. It’s not about teaching literature; there is no academic content in what we do.

As a volunteer, you will be part of a project run in partnership by Leicestershire Shared Reading and Leicestershire Libraries, and will be sharing the responsibility with another volunteer for leading a weekly Shared Reading Group, known as ‘Make Friends, with a Book’, for adults. Some of our groups meet online, while others have returned to libraries after the local lockdowns. Leading a group involves:

  • Selecting and preparing literature to read

  • Managing the running of a group meeting 

  • Reading aloud with the group

  • Taking the lead in discussions which allow participants to make a connection between the literature and their own lives

  • Keeping and reporting a brief record of each session and a log of material covered and passing on any concerns to your mentor

  • If running a Zoom group, being confident at managing the necessary technology, eg screen-sharing and setting up meetings

As a member of the LSR team you will also be expected to

  • Take part in ongoing training and personal development to build on your skills, including being mentored and sharing reflection on your practice

  • Stay in touch with your fellow group leaders by email and at support meetings and social gatherings


Personal development opportunities

  • Enjoy developing and practising new literary skills

  • Enhance your communication skills

  • Meet new people and engage with your local community

Time commitment

Groups meet weekly, and you and your co-leaders will arrange how these are shared out, but you should expect to lead up to one session a fortnight. Sessions last 1.5 hours; you will also need to allow time for training, preparation and support meetings. The time needed to find materials and prepare a session can vary, but you will receive plenty of ideas and support from fellow team members and from The Reader’s membership website. Ideally you will also be willing to cover for colleagues at your own or other locations, on occasion.

Is this you?

  • Enjoys reading for pleasure. Personal understanding and belief of how great literature can touch and change lives

  • Excellent reading ability and spoken English

  • Good verbal communication skills

  • Confident reading out loud to a group

  • ‘A people person’, interested in people and their stories. Kind, tolerant and engaging, able to put the interest of others above their own

  • Willing to learn new approaches to sharing literature and work in new environments

  • Able to function well in a group and be aware of boundaries, while willing to operate on a personal level within the setting of the shared reading group

  • Able to commit the necessary time to preparing and running a session every fortnight, apart from holidays

  • Able to attend an online training course, at a time to be agreed. Read to Lead begins with this course, a series of invigorating and thought-provoking sessions, usually delivered over six half-days. 

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