Today, we have Susan Hill Long, an amazing author who lives here in Portland. She volunteers for SMART, (Start Making a Reader Today), an organization that pairs caring, adult volunteers with children in need of reading support and books to take home and keep. SMART volunteers read one-on-one with students weekly during the school year, modeling a love of reading and building children’s reading skills and self-confidence in a positive, child-driven environment.









Why do you volunteer for SMART?

It’s just a good thing to get out and work with people whose circumstances are different than mine. I get so much out of sharing books with kids who might be having some difficulty figuring out this reading thing. To get to be there when they begin to crack that nut? When they read something by themselves, when they get the joke, when they get a glimpse of all the worlds available to them through books? It’s wonderful. For them, and for me.

SMART offers kids in the program the support of an adult to read with for a little while each week, plus they get to take home two books every month–books to write their names in, to keep and share with their families at home. Everybody wins, I think. SMART is always looking for more volunteer readers!


Susan Hill Long is the author of several books for young readers, including Whistle in the Dark, a 2015 Oregon Book Award Finalist.