Developing a love of reading in children in Sheffield

Volunteers to train as reading helpers for children are needed in and around Stocksbridge.

Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 10:56 am
Volunteers are needed in and around Stocksbridge, Sheffield, to help children grow a love of reading, as part of an initiative run by Beanstalk

Currently, helpers from the local community visit primary schools twice a week in an initiative run by Beanstalk.

The national charity recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work one-to-one with children aged three to 13 in a variety of ways, turning them into confident, passionate and able readers.

Once trained, each volunteer helps three children one-to-one at a local school two times a week for 30 minutes each at a time. The sessions are fun, interactive and hugely beneficial to the children receiving extra support. The one-to-one time with each child enables reading helpers to tailor each session to the child’s specific needs and to pass on the magic of stories and books.

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Lesley, a former manager at the local authority before she retired, has been a Beanstalk reading helper for almost a decade. As an avid reader from a humble background, she experienced herself how a love of reading can have a transformational effect on education and life chances.

She said: “Once they find reading enjoyable they will fly! One little boy in Year three told me that he had started school in Pakistan. He was decoding every letter and reading with no fluency. A few months later he was reading a Michael Morpurgo book and asking me questions about the story which showed me that he understood it all.”

Area manager for Beanstalk, Amy Mortimer, said: “The reading programmes we deliver at Beanstalk are so important because there is an opportunity here to make a big difference to so many children. Not only does Lesley help children with the ability to read, she gives the children their time and undivided attention and the key to a whole world of stories and characters, which helps them make sense of the world and discover new possibilities and potential.

“We are now looking for more people from this specific area to become reading helpers so we can help support even more children that need it. We are currently booking places on to our next training and selection day which is on May 16 in Doncaster. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a reading helper at a local school, we would love to hear from you! It really is such a fantastic opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the lives of children in the local community.” Visit the website at or call Beanstalk on 0845 450 0307.