20 December 2017

National literacy charity Beanstalk has launched a new campaign for 2018 to highlight the extraordinary difference members of the community across England can make by volunteering in primary schools to support children who struggle with reading. The work Beanstalk’s ‘reading heroes’ carry out will improve the lives of children that need extra help to prevent them from falling behind at school and to bring enjoyment into reading.

For over 40 years Beanstalk has recruited, trained and supported reading helpers in primary schools to provide one-to-one support where it is crucially needed. Many children across England still leave primary school not having met the expected standards of reading which can lead to all sorts of problems in later life.

By working with children who have either fallen behind with their reading, lack confidence, or struggle with their fluency or comprehension, Beanstalk’s reading helpers can make a significant difference to their future prospects. Their one-to-one sessions twice a week with the children they support will help them progress while also helping to encourage reading enjoyment. In 2016-2017 Beanstalk reading helpers supported approximately 11,000 children in England with their reading.

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk said:

“Beanstalk reading helpers really are local heroes within our communities and do so much more than just read. They develop confidence, self-esteem and very importantly help make reading fun and enjoyable. We regularly hear from volunteers who have had ‘breakthrough’ moments with a child because they found a particular book, poem or story which captivated that child’s interests. These moments are often the turning point for a child and happen as a result of regular and consistent reading opportunities.”

Pete Murphy is a Beanstalk reading hero from London who has been volunteering for three years:

“As a father I was motivated by the joy of reading to and with my son when he was young, how learning to read had opened up the world around him as jumbles of characters gradually became words and sentences. Being able to read brought him inclusivity as he started to read and understand signs in shops, on public transport or on the TV, newspaper headlines etc. So I threw my hat in the ring and after an interview, training course and DBS check there I was.

During my three years as a Beanstalk volunteer the experience has been extremely rewarding, witnessing children learn and grow, developing confidence and improving their reading skills not only through reading itself but also by chatting, listening and playing games. Games we’ve played have ranged from Noughts and Crosses to Draughts. Playing games, chatting and listening to the children all contribute highly in building rapport and boosting self-confidence.”

Many of Beanstalk's new volunteers get in touch as a result of a New Year’s resolution and wanting a new challenge. Lots of reading helpers always say how much they enjoy what they do, and how rewarding it is to see the impact they have on the children they read with. But as demand for our support grows we urgently need more people to help Beanstalk deliver it's work.

So if you feel you want to start 2018 as a Beanstalk reading hero and pass on your love of books to a child, please get in touch!

Once trained by Beanstalk, reading helpers on the Beanstalk Reading 321 programme work with three children at a local primary school and spend 30 minutes with each child twice a week, during term-time, for at least one academic year. Each session is meant to be relaxed, informal and fun. By having this one-to-one time with each child the reading helper can help tailor resources to the child’s interests and develop reading skills in a fun and engaging way.

Meet our reading heroes:

Each week we'll introduce you to the people behind the reading hero masks and find out why they volunteer with Beanstalk and what it means to them to pass on a love of reading. This week, read more about Pete's story and how he began his Beanstalk adventure.

If you would like to become a #BeanstalkReadingHero in 2018 and would like to help children in your community reach their full potential please visit our 'Become a reading helper' page.

And look out for Beanstalk’s digital ads across the country! Clear Channel, the UK’s leading Out of Home media owner, is supporting Beanstalk’s New Year #BeanstalkReadingHero campaign. Clear Channel has specially created digital adverts, which will appear on screens at a number of shopping malls across the country, to help promote Beanstalk volunteering opportunities available. For more information about Clear Channel visit www.clearchannel.co.uk/.