Have You Ever Wondered How Different Life Would Be if You Couldn't Read?

01/06/2016 16:21 | Updated 01 June 2016

Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if you didn't feel confident with your reading ability? You wouldn't be able to read a text message from a friend, fill in a job application form, or get lost in this summer's bestselling novel. Sadly, this is the problem facing far too many young people in this country.

Beanstalk's recently published research shows that almost a third of adults aged 16-24 in the UK don't feel confident with their reading ability, meaning they may find dealing with job applications a struggle. Perhaps this is not that surprising when nearly 40% of young adults remember learning to read as being a difficult and frustrating experience, and over half of them believe that they would have benefited from more one-to-one support when learning.

As CEO of Beanstalk, a children's literacy charity that recruits and trains volunteers to give such support, I know how frustrating it can be for children to learn to read, and the lasting difference one-to-one support can make. I'm a reading helper myself so have first-hand experience of the struggles which many children face.

Every week I volunteer in my local primary school as a Beanstalk trained reading helper, where I support children who find learning to read an extremely challenging experience. It's an important part of my role to instil confidence in the children that reading is something they can do. Having the time to talk, play and read with the children makes a huge difference. Just last week one of the children I support finally found the confidence to finish their first book! There's a long way to go before reaching the level when they are able to pick up a book and read aloud, but its evident the true difference one-to-one support can make.


The sad truth is that often the children who need one-to-one reading support the most aren't able to receive it, meaning that too may join the third of young adults who don't feel confident with their reading ability. That's why this Volunteers' Week Beanstalk is urging people to come forward and help change a child's life by giving time to help a child read.

Becoming a Beanstalk reading helper is really straightforward and can be done by anyone - we have volunteers ranging from CEO's like me to graduates to grandmas. Each volunteer works with three children and sees each child for two 30 minute sessions a week. Together, they read, play and talk. With Beanstalk's support the child's approach to learning and enjoying reading is transformed - 98% of schools we work with think that Beanstalk reading helpers helped the children they support to increase their reading confidence.

If you would like to mark this Volunteers' Week by making a lasting difference to a child's life, then simply visit or call 020 7729 4087