News and views It's all about those smiles By Helen Pillatt, a Beanstalk trained reading helper. I've always loved books and regularly used to lose myself in a book when I was a little girl – I still do in fact. My children were brought up surrounded by books, with a bedtime story every night, and they too have a love of books now. Now my grandchildren like nothing better than to sit down with a book. It seems to me such a shame that not every child has this opportunity, and becoming a Beanstalk trained reading helper is my way of changing that. In September, one of the children I support - aged six - didn't really know her alphabet, and consequently found reading a hard slog. So I started reading to her, and talking about the pictures, and gradually she would have a go at some of the words. Then the school gave her daily phonics sessions, and her confidence increased through reading very simple books with me. A highlight was finding Dr Seuss’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, as she read through the book her smile split her face from side to side. Another highlight came when she told me she now has books at home (before she had lots of toys but no books). She now enjoys coming to her reading sessions, and is clearly delighted with the praise and her progress. Her teacher tells me she has improved across the board. Being a Beanstalk trained reading helper has been so worthwhile. It has also been good to have the opportunity to change books a couple of times a term. With young children they get through the books quite quickly, and it's also nice to know that there's support and resources out there if you need them. If you’re thinking of being a volunteer with Beanstalk my advice would be to go for it! It's so rewarding and helping children to love reading will change their lives for the better.