Archives: middle grade writer

3 Volunteer Opportunities for Tweens

3 Volunteer Opportunities for Tweens

Last summer my daughter’s confidence soared after she taught swim lessons through our local Red Cross Learn to Swim Program.

Volunteering felt good, she said, and it was on her MUST-do list for this summer when again she joined dozens of other tweens and teens for two weeks to teach basic and intermediate swimming for free to children in our community.

And, in case you are wondering, she is NOT a swim monster, but an average swimmer who enjoys helping out.


Like other families, we want our kids to be comfortable as a volunteer and understand how to mesh their interests with helping others, yet we have had a hard time finding organizations which allow tweens to join.

So we are always on the lookout for those rare tween-friendly volunteer opportunities, especially summer-focused ones since summertime activities are much easier on our family schedule.





Two places which we found are usually open to younger volunteers are hospitals and libraries. Reading buddy programs, like this hospital one, ask volunteers to read to children while they wait for treatment or test results. (Note: The age listed in that specific program is 14 but we’ve found many times they will make exceptions if the tween appears mature enough. Not always, but usually.)


We’ve also found opportunities at our local library for our 11-year-old to read aloud to little children while the older siblings and parents attend a library program.




One program  we haven’t tried, but intend to, is to Collect Suitcases for Foster Children which I found on this Volunteer Guide website. Since my children know families who accept foster children, this was an idea which appealed to them immediately.


So what about you? Do you think tweens are too young for volunteer work? Have you any volunteer programs you’d suggest?

5 MG Olympic Books & btw, do you speak English?

5 MG Olympic Books & btw, do you speak English?

This July, 1 in 3 people – world-wide – are expected to watch the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Isn’t that fascinating?

The Olympic Games give us a common ground that few other events do. It’s fun to watch obscure (obscure to our household at least) sports and learn the stories of the not-so-famous athletes.

So, to encourage our kids to join in this world-wide event, I hunted down a few children’s books about the games.

Bu, but, but. . . . before you check out the books, take 2:41 minutes to check out the video below. In it, two guys poke fun at American tourists who visit England, but aren’t sure what language the locals are speaking. It’s funny, because, well, we all now it’s true.

Watching that video reminds me of a prank played on late night host and comedian Johnny Carson. While at a London cocktail party, Carson was approached by a British man who attempted to have a conversation with him. However, the British man’s accent was so heavy that Carson was unable to answer his questions. Ever polite, Carson nods, smiles, and searches for an escape. When no one comes to his rescue, Carson waits for the man to pause to ask, “Do you know anyone who speaks English?”

Now on to the books. . .

If you have a kid who likes to the facts,  he may enjoy this behind-the-scene look at the Olympics. The books has details from how a location is chosen, how the Olympic venues are built, and what happens to them after the Olympics is over. There is even a chapter on the Paralympic Games.

The Olympics: Behind the Scenes at the Olympics by Nick Hunter (Kindle edition)

If you have a kid who likes mysteries and a glimpse of what goes on for Olympic swimmers, then he may enjoy Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by Joel Feinstein.

Or if you have a kid who likes reading about what it takes to make it on to the Olympics as a gymnast, then she may enjoy one of these three books:



Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas, Winning Team by Dominique Moceanu & Alicia Thompson, and Balancing Act by Dominique Moceanu & Alicia Thompson (Hat tip: NY Times review )

Anyone ever have a hard time understanding  your English? (Uh, that would be a yes for me.)