“It’s all about the quality of the volunteers … they sprinkle our children with their magical reading fairy dust and open up the wonderful world of books to them.” (Beanstalk Schools’ Survey, Christmas 2015)
What Beanstalk’s volunteers do is so simple, yet magical – reading one to one to help children discover their love of reading. We’re proud to support Beanstalk’s work through our partnership and regular donations. Guest blogger, Alexis Nielson of Beanstalk talks about what their wonderful volunteers do to open the world to the children through a book.
The importance of reading for pleasure
Literacy skills have naturally been a pivotal part of the Government’s education policy for several decades now. However, while reading attainment has increased, reading for pleasure has sharply declined. British students are much less likely to read for pleasure outside of school than their European counterparts, which presents a worrying trend.
Several recent studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between reading for pleasure, frequency of reading, and attainment. Simply put, the more a child enjoys reading, the more receptive they are to learning.
A report by Quick Reads showed that reading for pleasure not only empowers and gives confidence to the reader, but it also helps to connect them to their community and improves their general wellbeing by promoting tolerance and acceptance of others, as well as self-appreciation and acceptance.
All these studies have led the Department for Education to recognise that reading for pleasure is fundamental in developing literacy skills and to ensure our children’s educational and personal development, and ultimately our country’s future.
Many schools now have dedicated whole school literacy programmes which have been instrumental in tackling the literacy problem in the UK. However, the home environment is still the most important factor in determining whether a child reads for pleasure, over social class or level of parental education. Having access to a wide range of resources and the ability to choose reading materials is vital in encouraging a love of reading in children, but sadly that is not the case for many children.
This is where Beanstalk steps in. Our highly flexible and bespoke one-to-one literacy support is designed to engage children in reading by increasing their confidence and by letting them choose what book or game to play from a vast library of resources. These are specifically tailored to the child’s reading ability, and interests. All of this takes place outside the classroom, in a comfortable and relaxed environment that lets each child build a rapport with their helper and learn at their own pace. For many children this is often the only time during the week when they are given options, asked their opinions, and able to enjoy quality one-to-one time with a consistent adult role model.
By showing these children that reading can be fun and enjoyable, Beanstalk reading helpers open up a whole new world of possibilities.
For more information about Beanstalk and how you can help change children’s lives please visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.