By Jennifer Campbell-Klomps, a Beanstalk reading helper and a school governor.

After living for 2 ½ years in Tenerife, I returned to the UK in August 2014 and was determined to spend time working with children since I have two teenage children and have always been involved in education. At present, I am a parent governor at my daughter’s secondary school, somewhat to her dismay as she is of the opinion that it is rather uncool!  

I completed the Beanstalk reading helper training course in London last August 2015 during the summer holidays and was impressed with the organisation, friendly environment and obvious love for books.

I waited with bated breath and was excited to be allocated a local school only 15 minutes’ walk from my home. Now I read with four Year 1 pupils every Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings!

My “office” consists of two comfy armchairs and a table located in the corridor; I am happy with that arrangement because the school is buzzing with activity and at the same time there are quiet moments to focus on reading.

When I started in September 2015, I must admit it was a tricky process juggling 4 children within the 1 ½ hour slot which also included the break, so I decided to alternate reading times so that each child didn’t miss play-time.

One of my pupil is a reluctant reader, who prefers playing games and would make lots of excuses such as “I haven’t got my glasses”, “the print’s too small”, “this book’s boring”, “that’s too easy/hard for me” which I found challenging but it kept me on my toes! I attended a reluctant reader’s course organised by Beanstalk which gave me loads of tips about engaging a child’s interest. I eventually discovered that my reluctant reader loved talking about dinosaurs so off I went in search for dinosaur books!  :D

Then there is another pupil who was an extremely quiet child until discovering the Picture Dictionary book! Suddenly, he found his voice. Who would have thought reading a dictionary could be so much fun?  To encourage the fun element of reading, this is what we did! I would give the following instructions:

  • Close the book.
  • Open the book.
  • Fingers on the page.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Move your fingers over the page and stop.
  • What word is it? Oh, really?
  • Let’s now read.

It’s such a delight seeing the excitement on the child’s face and every now and then they would ask “can I do it again?” – that’s one of the reasons why I love reading with children!

I have been a Beanstalk reading helper since September 2015 and I look forward to every reading session. I love meeting up with other Beanstalk reading helpers and attend book exchanges where we can swap tips and ideas which ultimately improves our reading experiences with the children.

At the end of the reading session, I like saying to each child “Thank you for reading with Beanstalk”!

If you would like to become Beanstalk reading helper like me, then it’s really easy to get involved – I cannot recommend it enough!