Book Buddy students more than doubled their mastery of pre-reading skills, improving their test scores significantly more than preschoolers not in the program.  

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, onsite volunteer opportunities are not available for this school year. Please check back here summer 2021. If you have questions please email Vanessa Sedrel.

Hundreds of central Iowa four-year-olds are at risk of not gaining the skills they need to start kindergarten ready to learn. And research shows that children who start behind, stay buddy.jpg Book Buddy reaches children in the critical year before kindergarten, helping them build the pre-reading skills they need for a strong start in school. For 40 minutes a week, volunteers read one-on-one with four-year-old students at early childhood centers in Des Moines.  

Using an engaging curriculum and library of 25 books developed in collaboration with Des Moines Public Schools, volunteers follow the book insert to teach a specific literacy skill. 

Book Buddy extends learning beyond the classroom to support family literacy. Children bring home their own copy of the featured book every Friday—the start of a budding library in homes where reading materials are often scarce.

Student assessment results are compelling—74% showed improvement last year—but the increasing confidence in students is the most convincing of all. Their bright smiles will be the highlight of your week!

There are no in-person volunteer opportunities at this time. 

What's It Like to Be a Book Buddy? 

Eh's Story

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This preschooler's life was changed by books.


Gema's Storygema 2-1.png

Gema Garcia of Ankeny volunteers to read with preschool students in both Spanish and English, teaching them essential literacy skills for kindergarten.



Deb's Story

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A first-year Book Buddy volunteer shares her experience, which didn't start out too well, but quickly transformed into a special time each week.


Book Buddy Locations

You choose the location that works best for you! Some volunteers read every week; others alternate weeks with another volunteer to accommodate busy schedules.

Reading continues through April for a total of 24 weeks with breaks scheduled around holidays and spring break.

  • Bidwell Riverside Child Dev. Center
    1203 Hartford Ave.

  • Capitol Park
    800 E 12th St.

  • CFI Child Development Center
    801 Forest Ave.

  • Conmigo (Book Buddy Plus)
    828 Scott Ave.

  • House of Mercy
    1409 Clark St.

  • Oak Academy
    979 Oakridge Drive

  • Perry Child Development Center
    920 18th St. (not pictured on map)
    Perry, Iowa 50220

  • Wonder Years Academy
    3838 MLK Parkway

Children from households with low incomes hear an average of
fewer words by age 3. They are also
4x more likely
to be absent from school than their peers from families with middle incomes.

Source: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading