By Matt Oldfield, author of the Heroes Football series and a Beanstalk reading helper. This blog originally appeared at

We love literacy. Reading and writing are what we’re all about – well, and football, of course! So when I heard about the great work that Beanstalk is doing in schools across England, I couldn’t wait to get involved.

I’ve been reading at Hill Mead Primary in Brixton for a month now. And I’m loving it! I have three reading partners and I visit the school twice a week, spending an hour with each. I’ve visited lots of schools in the last few years and I can honestly say that Hill Mead is one of the best. The kids are polite, bright, friendly and engaged.

So what do I do with my reading partners? All three are Year 6 pupils who can read most sentences confidently. We keep lists of any new words and work on expanding vocabulary through synonyms and antonyms.

But mostly, I focus on the next step in the literacy process – comprehension. And I try to make it fun! After reading a chapter of the book they choose, we often write a 3-question quiz for each other. Our questions range from the concrete (character names, colours, objects etc.) to the abstract (what do you think the main theme was? what did you think of that character? what do you think will happen next?). The kids seem to enjoy the challenge and the competitive element, even if they always win!

I can only recommend volunteering with Beanstalk. For more information on what they do and how to get involved, visit their website .