As the new school year begins, now is the perfect time to sign up to volunteer in our schools. One wonderful way to help encourage books and the love of reading is to register to be a SMART Reader.

SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) is a program unique to Oregon. We recruit volunteers to read one-on-one at schools throughout Oregon, reading with the same kids every week for half-hour sessions. In most cases, the volunteers work an hour a week, reading with two kids per week. However, you are welcome to volunteer more often if you choose.

We are not a tutoring program, but an enjoy-books-and-reading program. Each school decides which student groups they wish to serve. Generally, SMART kids are K-3 as well as Head Start. It is extremely rewarding to see your SMART Kids every week as they pick out books to share with you and to share their excitement.

We are currently recruiting readers for Eugene, Springfield and the rest of Lane County. We start reading with the SMART kids in mid-October, but we need to have our volunteers signed up well before, so each child can be matched with a reader.

Go to our website at to register, or call the SMART office at 541-600-8035 to request a paper application.

Barbara George, SMART coordinator

Cesar E. Chavez