14th May 2019

Over 70 volunteers from across the North West of England came together this month in Liverpool City centre for the first ever regional volunteer conference. It was a chance to meet fellow reading helpers, share best practice and to hear the latest news from Coram Beanstalk.

Managing Director Ginny Lunn introduced the day by updating reading helpers on what the new amalgamation with Coram means for volunteers, explaining how it will bring about lots of new opportunities to reach more children than ever before. 

Dr. Jamie Lingwood of the University of Leeds was then invited to share his fascinating research findings on the impact of shared reading which was a project undertaken in collaboration with The Reader. He said: “The more we can encourage shared reading with pre school children the more we can encourage successful readers at school”.

This was followed by an inspiring panel discussion between Dr. Jamie Lingwood, Kathryn Mort (Assistant Head Teacher), Lisa Mitchell (Founder of The Big Little Library in Liverpool) and Cathy Cassidy (a published children's author) who discussed 'What makes a book brilliant?'

One of the books recommended by Kathryn was ‘The Naughty Bus’ by Jan Oak which she described as a great text for engaging children in reading across her school in Manchester. This discussion was chaired by Coram Beanstalk's Chair of Trustees Jill Pay who encouraged questions and book suggestions from attendees. A returning favourite recommendation was 'You Choose' by Pippa Goodhart (author) and Nick Sharratt (illustrator), a book which always gets a mention by reading helpers supporting reluctant readers.

During the afternoon session attendees took part in interactive workshops run by the organisation's professional trainers, to help enrich reading sessions. These included sessions on how to be trauma and attachment aware during reading sessions with children and how to play games with books! These were particularly well received by reading helpers.

Thank you to everyone who came along to make the day really successful. We will be continuing to organise regional conferences across the country in different locations so that all our reading helper can attend and benefit from these excellent networking and best practice sharing opportunities.