Help as a volunteer - join the Book Bus crew
Book Bus Volunteers are the backbone of our child literacy scheme, they inspire the children to engage with books through assisted reading, creative arts and plain old fun and games. If you enjoy working with children and can make the magic of a story leap off the page of a book then read on to see how the Book Bus can take you on the most rewarding journey of your life. Each of our destinations offers its own unique attractions and whether you join us for 14 days or up to 4 months, your participation will transform a child's life, and your own, for ever.
When you join us as a Book Bus volunteer you become part of a very special mobile library service that supports child literacy in disadvantaged communities in Zambia, Malawi, Ecuador and India. You will participate directly in the work that we do, you simply choose your destination and time scale (minimum two weeks).
What will you be doing?
Volunteers travel on the Book Bus and inspire children to read. We encourage the children to associate books with enjoyment and creativity and so develop a lifelong love of reading that will benefit the children and their communities for years to come.
Typical volunteer activities include:
Our volunteer groups board the Book Bus every day from Monday to Friday to visit schools within the project area. We visit mostly primary schools with occasional visits to pre-school nurseries.
Small group activities
Volunteers work with small groups of up to 10 children and organise activities that inspire them to read.
This can be a case of reading individually with a child or reading altogether in one group. Assisted and shared reading boost the children's confidence to read, write and speak English.
Dramatising stories through arts and craft
Planning arts and crafts around the story-lines and characters of a book stretches the imagination giving children the opportunity to be creative.
Organise fun activities around the books
This is a chance for the volunteers to use their imagination and play games and plan fun activities related to the stories.
Teacher Support Workshop
The Book Bus facilitates workshops to provide local teachers with techniques and material that will help them improve child literacy in their classrooms. We invite former volunteers who are qualified teachers to help us plan and implement these workshops. Please contact us for further information.
What does it take to join the Book Bus?
If you enjoy working with children, are addicted to books and have an adventurous spirit then the Book Bus could well be for you. We welcome aboard individuals, friends and couples and, with previous volunteers' backgrounds ranging from teacher to banker to plumber to journalist, there's never a dull moment on the Bus.
Age is certainly not a limiting factor when volunteering with the Book Bus; we have hosted a family with 2 children aged 9 and 11 and at the other end of the scale we have welcomed the wisdom and experience of retired folk in their mid to late 60's; in fact, it's not unusual for us to have 3 generations on the bus at any one time.
We make the Book Bus lifestyle as comfortable as possible. In Malawi, India and Ecuador we are based in family-run bungalow style accommodation. In Zambia we go for the outdoor lifestyle which, when done properly, offers a great living experience! Our permanent camps in Livingstone and Mfuwe offer comfortable camping with large walk-in tents, hot and cold water and a relaxing pool for afternoon dips after school.
Our Book Bus volunteers have created truly inspirational results:
Since our first school visit in 2008 Book Bus volunteers have inspired over five thousand children to experience the joy of reading through story telling, role play, creative arts and music. They have informed schools, communities and government ministries of the importance of literacy and how it can advance children towards an improved future. They have involved dozens of local teachers by taking the project into their classrooms and influenced schools, individuals and corporate companies to support us through financial donation and material support.
It’s the dedicated work of our volunteers that makes the biggest difference to the children who we work with; the books are a great beginning but “it’s the way that you tell them” that really counts. Whether you are a natural born volunteer, taking some time out or just want a holiday with a difference, get in touch with us to find out more about our Book Bus volunteer projects.
Volunteer Case Studies
Helping develop teacher skills in Zambia
My name is Claudia Lubinda and I am 24 years old and a student teacher in Early Childhood Education in Livingstone, Zambia. Before I went to college I never thought I would be a teacher because I was very shy and never had confidence.
I came across the Book Bus two years ago and learnt a lot from just helping as a volunteer with the school literacy scheme. The Book Bus has helped so many teachers and pupils with their literacy and creative activities, I learn many additional activities from the Book Bus that we don't even do at the college!
The Book Bus has taken away the shyness in me and brought joy and happiness to many people especially to the kids in school and those who can't afford to go to school.
- Claudia Lubinda, local volunteer
An experience of a life time
Year in and year out I was looking for something fulfilling to do during my 6 weeks annual holidays and this year I finally found something worth doing – joining the Book Bus to help children in schools around Livingstone in its literacy programme.
Every day spent with the book bus was unique in all aspects and provided a good opportunity to put smiles on the faces of the children. Reading and playing word games with children gives an insight on how much needs to be done to better their reading and writing skills. With very limited literacy material in the schools and almost none for the communities, the book bus brings the much needed books closer to where they are needed most.
Volunteering has provided me with a life time opportunity to spend my holidays helping children. It has been my most rewarding experience and a WELL SPENT HOLIDAY.
- Evans Sikalinda, local volunteer
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The educational reality for many children in Zambia is pretty grim. Books are scarce, few schools have library facilities and even text-books are a rare sight in the classrooms - in some cases one text book between 50 children is the norm! Class sizes often exceed 80 children per teacher and teaching by rote is the most common form of education. As a result, literacy, numeracy and creative thinking levels are correspondingly low.
Our volunteer teams in Zambia are improving children's education by delivering books to their schools and inspiring them to read. Since 2008 over 8,000 children have benefitted from our reading scheme in Zambia. If you like reading and enjoy playing with children then why not join the Book Bus teams that are changing children's lives in Zambia? The children at our partner schools in Livingstone and South Luangwa are waiting for you and Book Bus Charlie and Book Bus Matilda are ready to take you there. Click through the links below to find out more!
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in Livingstone, Zambia
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in South Luangwa, Zambia
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in Kitwe, Zambia
The Book Bus began its literacy support scheme in Malawi in 2010. We work mainly in the southern part of Malawi with schools in the Shire Valley. Every two years we host a literacy event on the shores of Lake Malawi as part of the famous Lake of Stars Festival .
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in Malawi
Ecuador - the Galapagos Islands and Puerto Lopez
The Book Bus in Ecuador needs Spanish and English speaking volunteers to join our teams in Puerto Lopez on the mainland and in Santa Cruz on the Galapagos Islands. You will be working to improve child literacy in schools and to make books more available to the local communities. Ecuador is a fascinating South American country and during the project you will witness life in some of the world’s most dramatic natural settings.
If you speak Spanish or have a flair for languages then you'll have a unique opportunity to practice speaking with the local population. No Habla Espanol? No hay problemo! We also need English speakers to help children develop their English language skills and to help also the teachers who are keen to practice their English conversational skills.Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in the Galapagos Islands
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
India is a new destination for the Book Bus. In 2013 we will initiate a Book Bus child literacy scheme with schools in Rajasthan.
Read more about volunteering on the Book Bus in India
UK - Fundraising & Supporters
Volunteering for the Book Bus in the UK can make a massive difference to how our Charity is perceived with a positive benefit to our fundraising efforts.
From time to time we post specific volunteer positions for the Book Bus. The Book Bus Buddy system is an ongoing association of returned volunteers who meet both regionally and nationally to fundraise for the charity and catch up and share memories of their project.
The main beneficiaries of the Book Bus Buddies are the children in those far away remote places of the world.
Read more about our Book Bus Buddies network in the UK