By Carrie Pangbourne 

By far the fondest, early memories I have of my children are those precious times spent snuggled up on their beds (more often than not on mine), warm from their baths, and reading a book together. 

Whether they were reading to me or me to them, I always felt lucky we had that opportunity to spend an evening exploring words and stories, pictures and rhymes. Lucky too that I had the time and resources to hand - time to visit the library, sit with them at story time and be able to listen to them recant the tales they had heard. Reading in those days was seen as fun and often acted as an opportunity to discuss more challenging issues as they were free to choose books on friendships, families etc which we could explore and evaluate on a safe platform.  

Fast forward to the teenage years, and those times have been replaced but my love of books and reading is greater than ever. As my children move through primary and secondary school I have found a little more free time during my working week, so it seemed an obvious choice to join Beanstalk and continue to share that passion with other children.

Although I had no teaching experience, entering the school environment as something other than a parent was easier that I expected. The staff at my school were aware of the impact that volunteer readers can have so made me feel welcome and encouraged the children to participate fully in the sessions with me, which was all a great help. My sessions with the children have made me more aware that not all children grow up finding fun and enjoyment in books or have much of a chance for one-on-one time to read with an adult. The idea that I can share a little of my time to help with that is very rewarding.

Unlike the classroom teachers, the Beanstalk volunteers are free to choose books and games specifically for their selected children and it was fascinating getting to know their individual personalities and choosing material that would suit them. Once we got to know each other a little, we could select books together that were within their capabilities and understanding and where they were not under any pressure to have to read out loud in front of their peers. They could take their time and know they could ask any questions no matter how silly!

Now that the summer holidays are over and my own children have gone back to school, I’m really looking forward to starting back for a new term myself with three new children. I can't wait to see what we can learn together!

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Beanstalk reading helper please read the information about our volunteering roles or call 0845 450 0307 to find out more about our work and how you can sign up as a Beanstalk reading helper.