Every week we will be sharing stories from our Story Starter volunteers to spread the word about the importance of the support they give and the lasting difference they make. 

Volunteering on a weekly basis, our Story Starters provide children in local early years’ settings (e.g. nurseries), one-to-one support and encouragement to develop their language and communication skills and help them start school ready to read.

Apply to become a Story Starter here

I am volunteering in Little Sutton, Cheshire, and I started in November 2017. I was looking for an activity related to reading when I saw an advert for Beanstalk on Facebook. The best bit about volunteering is that you can choose how much time you invest, and that you feel appreciated and well supported by the local coordinators. We also had a training day before we started volunteering with others who were also just starting out.

I have found becoming a Story Starter immensely rewarding, I am extremely lucky that my allocated school has been incredibly supportive; I have a nice area to use, the book box is stored close by, and the children are receptive to reading. It is a little bit daunting at first, not having ever done anything like this before, but help is only a text/call/conversation away. Allowing children to unleash their imagination through books and storytelling is such a privilege - I was brought up to cherish books, and, in today’s busy society with working parents, technology, and other distractions, it is personally rewarding to me to feel that I have had a small input into the development of the children who are allocated to me in the project. 

The children seem very accepting and they quickly settle into the routine of the sessions. I have included some homemade props to go with the stories, such as telescopes for Shark in the Park (one of the books). Favourite moment for me is every time I am in class and the children respond to my suggestion that we go and do some reading. Very special moment was when one child came and asked me if we could read now! School had not yet started! My favourite children’s book has to be You Choose by Pippa Goodhart because it opens up all kinds of conversations and stories from the children just by talking about the objects on the page. It is great to see and hear their imagination embroider stories, with very little words in the book. 

I would say to anyone who is interested in becoming a Story Starter volunteer to give it a go - the worst that can happen is that you find out it’s not for you. The best thing is the return from 2 hours each week invested in contributing to a child’s development. I feel that I am doing something wholly worthwhile. 

You can apply to become a Story Starter here

You can find out about other Beanstalk voluntary programmes here