#BeanstalkReadingHeroes from the West Midlands David from Birmingham I am a retired Chartered Mechanical Engineer and I found out about Beanstalk through another member of our local U3A group. I considered that I was in a position to help youngsters who needed some assistance with their school work. The highlight of my volunteering experience so far is seeing the enthusiasm of the children wanting to progress. There is a great need to help youngsters even in the best of schools. There are a lot of people out there who are capable of giving something back to society. Beanstalk has numerous books and materials, together with assistance, to support the volunteer. I find that it provides an element of personal satisfaction and achievement. I would recommend volunteering with Beanstalk if you are prepared to recognise the need and risk challenging their capabilities in, perhaps for them, a different environment. As a recent volunteer with Beanstalk it was rewarding to be told by one of my children that they were now helping their younger brother with his reading. Encouragement with progress is infectious. Chris from Shropshire I used to be a languages teacher so have always loved words and their impact. When I retired in 2000, a former colleague who had become a Beanstalk volunteer recommended the organisation to me, and I liked the set-up. I have now been supporting children in years four, five and six since 2002. There are highlights most weeks; whenever a child's face lights up - in understanding or humour, we can both feel progress is being made. Never having worked with this age group before I am surprised all the time! The great majority of these kids have considerable expertise in some field or other - sport/IT/pets - and are not afraid of expressing it. The trick is to try and turn that expertise into the printed word rather than just chit-chat. The speed with which most of them start using their voice properly always surprises me. So does their taste for scatological humour - way ahead of mine at that age! And they love maps! I certainly recommend volunteering for Beanstalk. One-to-one teaching is going to be more and more precious in the years ahead. All adults can be teachers. And it keeps you young. Joan from Stoke I am a retired teacher and have been a reading helper now for 10 years. I find it particularly rewarding and believe it is so important to help develop confidence in young people and intervene before they fall further behind with their reading. I have been working with many children whose first language is not English, and this can be extremely challenging for them when it comes to reading, but through a combination of fun word games and reading books it they really do make progress. I often start the sessions with a game of snap, with words on the cards, then I encourage them to choose a book from the book box. We then end each session with a word game, using letters to make different word combinations. I really enjoy it! Jashan from Shropshire During primary school, I was not a competent reader and struggled reading aloud in class. When I was in year six, I was still lacking confidence which was worrying as secondary school was around the corner. Mrs Goddard was a reading helper who visited me each week, and helped develop my love for literacy. I used to look forward to her visits. She used to aid and support me to become more confident, whilst making reading more fun. I would choose a book out her box and read to her. She was never too pushy and never made me feel uncomfortable if I didn’t get a word right. We would discuss the book together at the end of the session, and then I’d walk back into class feeling happier and content. Mrs Goddard heavily impacted my reading ability, which has motivated me to become a reading helper today. Her impact was so significant I still remember her over 10 years later. If you have been inspired to become a #BeanstalkReadingHero in 2018, visit our volunteering page to find out more.