Most of us take it for granted that we can read; it comes naturally and we don’t think much about it. But can you imagine how your life might unfold if reading was a struggle?
Reading unlocks a world of opportunities and forms the foundations for a lifetime of learning. But sadly, one in five 11 year olds in England cannot read well, rising to one in three among children from disadvantaged backgrounds. A report for the ‘Read On. Get On’ campaign reveals that: ‘England has the highest level of inequality in reading levels between better-off and less affluent children in Europe, with the exception of Romania. Children who cannot read well at the end of primary school are less likely to succeed in secondary school and, in adulthood, are likely to earn less than their peers.’
National literacy charity, Beanstalk, has launched a new campaign for 2018 to highlight the extraordinary difference members of the community across England can make by volunteering in primary schools to support children who struggle with reading. The work Beanstalk’s ‘reading heroes’ carry out aims to improve the lives of children who need extra help, prevent them from falling behind at school and bring enjoyment into reading.
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day develop increased general knowledge, a better understanding of other cultures and a broader vocabulary; a developed vocabulary is one of the key indicators for future success in school and beyond.
By working with children who have either fallen behind with their reading, lack confidence, or struggle with their fluency or comprehension, Beanstalk’s reading helpers can make a significant difference to their future prospects. Their one-to-one sessions twice a week with the children they support will help them progress, while also helping to encourage reading enjoyment. In 2016-2017 Beanstalk reading helpers supported approximately 11,000 children in England with their reading.
“Beanstalk reading helpers really are local heroes within our communities and do so much more than just read. They develop confidence, self-esteem and very importantly help make reading fun and enjoyable. We regularly hear from volunteers who have had ‘breakthrough’ moments with a child because they found a particular book, poem or story which captivated that child’s interests. These moments are often the turning point for a child and happen as a result of regular and consistent reading opportunities.” explains Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk.
Ginny adds: “Many of our new volunteers get in touch as a result of a New Year’s resolution and wanting a new challenge. Lots of our reading helpers always say how much they enjoy what they do, and how rewarding it is to see the impact they have on the children they read with. But as demand for our support grows we urgently need more people to help us deliver our work. So if you feel you want to start 2018 as a Beanstalk reading hero and pass on your love of books to a child, please get in touch!”
Once trained by Beanstalk, reading helpers on the Beanstalk Reading 321 programme work with three children at a local primary school and spend 30 minutes with each child twice a week, during term-time, for at least one academic year. Each session is meant to be relaxed, informal and fun. By having this one-to-one time with each child the reading helper can help tailor resources to the child’s interests and develop reading skills in a fun and engaging way.
If you would like to become a Beanstalk reading hero in 2018 and share the gift of reading, please visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk, call Beanstalk on 0845 450 0307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.