Volunteer Q & A with Shana Johnson

September 4, 2012

Shana, a youth librarian, regularly volunteers her time with our Kids Night program. Below she shares some of her experiences with Upward Bound House.


How did you get involved with UBH?

After receiving a grant from the State Library to provide reading programs and bring library services to kids and teens in the Santa Monica community, I immediately contacted staff at Upward Bound House to see if they would be interested in having me visit on a regular basis. Fortunately, UBH said yes and it's been a blast ever since.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

By far it's been interacting with the kids and teens at UBH, sharing new stories and songs with them, and introducing them to resources that can help with their homework needs. 

What is the most rewarding thing about volunteering? 

One of the most rewarding things is seeing a child re-reading a book that I shared with them or singing a song/rhyme that we did together during a program.  It's also been very rewarding to see how the reading collection and the Kids' Room at Family Place has been re-organized and transformed, due in part to the books and educational materials that have been purchased with the grant I received.  I also love how some of the story time techniques I've been using in my programs (such as expanding on a book's theme by leading a related craft) is being included in other Kids' Night programs.  It really reinforces how much fun reading and sharing books can be!

Why would you recommend volunteering to others who might be interested in it? Any tips you would give them?

Volunteering is an easy way to give back to your community, and the time you share can have such a big impact in the lives of others.  My biggest tip would be to think about what skills you can bring and how best you can share this skill with others who would benefit from it.  And overall, have fun!

What have you learned from this experience?

I've learned just how infectious sharing something I'm passionate about (reading) to kids and teens can be, especially when everyone's having a great time participating in the activity.

What are some of your favorite children's books/activities to share with the kids?

This is a tough question for a children's librarian!  If I had to narrow down to just a few stories I love to share, they would be The Baby Bee Bird by Diane Massie, the folktale Uwungelema, and the flannel board story Flip Flap Jack.  By far my favorite song to share is Tooty Ta Ta - if you want to hear how the song goes, just ask any of the kids who've attended one of my programs!  Just be forewarned that the song has a tendency to get stuck in your head!

What is on your book shelf? 

Lots of kids and teen books (I'm sure one would have guessed this).

Who is your hero?

I don't have a specific hero per se, but I do admire people who dedicate themselves to enriching the lives of others, in whatever manner or fashion they can.