Become a Reading Tutor

There are several reasons you might consider becoming a reading tutor. Maybe you benefited from a tutor yourself when you were younger, or you just like the idea of helping other students discover the joys of reading. Maybe you're looking at a career that relates to working with others and want to get started or get some practice. Or maybe you just want to put tutoring on your job or college applications.

As a reading tutor, you'll probably be working with one of three kinds of students:

  • Students younger than you who require one-on-one attention to develop their reading skills

  • Students at your own grade level who need help with reading comprehension or writing

  • Students who are learning English as a second language who need to get up to speed quickly to keep up with the class

Whatever your own goals, to become a successful reading tutor, you must enjoy reading, yourself. And you need to have strong reading and writing skills (and the good grades to prove it). You'll probably also need a teacher's recommendation to become a tutor, and you'll have to go through some kind of training before you start working with another student. Expect to be asked to commit at least one hour per week tutoring (if you go to debate team meetings before school, soccer practice after school, then race to your part time job at the library, and then babysit after dinner, you likely don't have time to tutor).

You will also need good interpersonal skills. Often a student with below-average reading skills isn't proud of the fact, so a good reading tutor has to be not only a teacher but also a coach to help the other student overcome low self-esteem issues, and a very good listener to talk through any reading-related roadblocks your pupil faces. 

Expect to help your pupils with a variety of material. (You might be reading anything from Harry Potter to a chapter in a U.S. History book, or from an essay about modern cinema to a driver's ed. manual.)

Finally, some great readers mistakenly shy away from becoming tutors because they didn't get A's in English grammar. Your job as a reading tutor is about helping another student read faster or more fluidly and to help them understand what they read. It is not to teach them how to pick the direct object out of a sentence or separate the conjunctions from the prepositions. If you are passionate about reading and understand what you read, that's what's important.