Inspire a child to read – Volunteers Needed

image002Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that transforms children’s life chances by supporting volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading.

Many of the pupils that Beanstalk help come from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not have the opportunity to read at home. Additionally, with more than 30 children in a classroom, there’s often limited opportunity for individual attention. Children who are struggling with their reading are at risk of getting left behind and this can affect them for years to come if they do not get the help they require.

Girl reading with male reading helper 2Literacy charity Beanstalk is searching for members of the community to volunteer as Reading Helpers, visiting a school for just 90 minutes twice a week. Each reading helper works with 3 pupils, on a 1:1 basis, for a year. Full training and support is provided before starting and all Reading Helpers have a dedicated Volunteer Support Worker, to help them throughout.

The time spent with a Reading Helper differs from classroom sessions and involves reading, playing games and conversation, with a focus on having fun.  For many children, this is all it takes to help build their self-esteem and give them the confidence to develop their literacy skills.

A reading helper provided the following story of a day in his life as a reading helper:

“I am a large and greedy person with an overdeveloped interest in food. This gives me the advantage of always having an opening line when I pick up my children – “What did you have for lunch today”?”

I usually choose to read first and here I stick to Beanstalk principles and let the children pick the text. My children are all young so we like stories where we can shout or shriek or make animal noises.  Did I mention I was loud as well as greedy?

Reading helperIn the middle of the session we choose from activities like crosswords, join the dots and drawing – all of which let us talk together as we work. At the end we play games. I like to pretend that I will thrash them and then grow increasingly surprised as they do well. As I take them back I generally have to warn them quite sternly that they must lose next time!”

During the last academic year Beanstalk supported over 10,000 children across the UK.  The latest figures show 93% of the young children supported by Beanstalk reading helpers showed meaningful improvement in their reading level.


In our most recent survey, our volunteers said that:

  • 98% would recommend becoming a reading helper to other people
  • 64% felt more like a part of their community


If you would like to find out more, call us for a chat on 01622 662 026 or you can read more and apply on our website at

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