4th May 2020

Jessie volunteers as a Coram Beanstalk reading helper in Liverpool. Here she shares her experiences of supporting children with their reading:

Favourite books to share

Out of all the books I have read with the children so far, my favourite has got to be 'You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum!' because it has brought a lot of laughter to our sessions, and 'The Brilliant World of Tom Gates' because it is filled with so many things that have sparked really interesting conversations with the children!

Top tips for reading with children

With children who are a bit reluctant to read, I would say that it is important to let them know that there is no pressure for them to read. A good idea might be to spend the first few weeks/term doing the reading aloud in your sessions, making sure that your voice matches the tone of the book. As the weeks go on, you could try getting the child to read maybe one sentence, then one paragraph, then one page etc. until hopefully they feel comfortable being the one to read during your sessions.

I would always give the child a choice with regards to who wants to read at the beginning of every session, regardless of if it is your very first or very last session with that child, and regardless of if they are comfortable or not yet with reading aloud in your sessions. I have found that a fun way to decide who is going to read if a child is undecided is to roll a dice and if, for example, the dice rolls an even number then the child will read and if it rolls an odd number then you will read.

Success stories 

One of the children I worked with was initially quite reluctant to share her own thoughts and ideas about things in the books and didn't engage with any book talk. However, after moving on from the short, picture books in the starter pack to a longer chapter book, she really came out of her shell and gradually shared more and more of her ideas with me, engaging with book talk.

Being a Coram Beanstalk volunteer

Spending time with the children is my favourite part of being a reading helper! Before volunteering with Beanstalk, I hadn't had any experience working with children, but since starting this journey, I have seen just how imaginative, funny, and bright young children can be - I definitely underestimated them at the start!

This experience has also given me a lot of relevant experience which I have found extremely useful as I have plans to train to be a primary school teacher.

Become a reading helper

We are still processing volunteer applications and encourage anyone interested in becoming a reading helper to apply as normal by completing our online form