By Amy Lewis, Beanstalk Area Manager 

The North West office is based in a school so I’m used to hearing the sound of children's chatter, laughter, singing and squeaky clarinet playing! During the summer break this goes eerily quiet and on the route to the office I walk through quiet corridors past darkened classrooms and forgotten PE kits.

School is a happy place for most children and I often reflect on what sort of summer the children are having. Some will have weeks filled with life experiences - playing with friends, travels and days out. My experience with Beanstalk makes me aware that this isn’t true for all and some will welcome the return of the school routine.

I’ve just spent a day out on the Mersey Ferry sharing stories with the children on board. The first group of children were an engaging audience to observe. As the story began they munched on their sandwiches and there was only one arm in the air when page turning help was requested, soon all were on their feet wanting to turn the page and shouting out “it was the rabbit that stole the hat!” All enraptured by the clever suspense and beautiful illustrations in the book.

A reminder that sharing stories with children is always enjoyable, often amusing, completely absorbing and utterly magical. Over the past five years I’ve seen first-hand that Beanstalk does something magical too: connecting adults with time and enthusiasm with children who need someone to give them a boost. You can see from some of our photos the trust that builds between a child and their reading helper. This trust leads to ‘the click moment’ - when a child realises that reading can be something they are good at. The foundation is then in place for children to develop their wider confidence and reading ability.

I’m proud to be a part of Beanstalk, working to ensure that lots of children will return to a school to discover a special surprise  – a year of dedicated one to one attention from a volunteer giving their time and life experience to help them on their journey of becoming confident readers. Whether these children are chatty or quiet, hesitant or enthusiastic, Beanstalk reading helpers patiently help each discover their own reading bug and perhaps next summer they will travel, far and wide, within their imagination fuelled by a great book.

If you live in the North West and you'd like to become a Beanstalk reading helper then please get in touch - it’s really easy to get involved!