Today, 3 March, we’re celebrating World Book Day. Here in the UK, amazing volunteers from our Born to Read programme help children who are struggling with reading to fall in love with books. It’s a skill that can transform lives.
Here are some of their inspirational stories, and the tales of some of the children they help.
Dharmesh and Harun
Dharmesh is a reading volunteer at a school in London. He supports two children with their reading, including nine-year-old Harun.
“I love it – finding out about the kids and what they like. We might play a few more games than we should. I like listening to what the kids have to say.”
“My Year 5 pupil [Harun] – there’s been a huge change in him. When I used to ask him to choose a book – he would choose picture books. But then one day they were reading this book in class and he asked to read that. It went from there.”
Harun says: “Reading makes a lot more sense to me now; it’s much easier. I can read difficult words now and really tricky ones and understand their meanings.
“It’s good when you’re reading and you get a difficult word. You can get a dictionary and find out what the word is and it might be one of the best words you use; you’ll now have that word forever.”
Sonia and George
Sonia, 83, is a reading volunteer at a school in Kent. She visits the school twice a week to read with three eight and nine-year-olds for 30 minutes each, including nine-year-old George.
“In the first term you’re getting to know each other and then after that it has its own momentum. They’re reading a lot more confidently. All three of them started off wanting books with more pictures and less text. Now they’re willing to accept that you can get more from the words than you can from the pictures, so I think that’s progress.
“It’s wonderful to have such contact with young people because when you get to grandmother age you tend to get left behind – not left out, but you’re living in a different strata of society. I think young children are always stimulating.“
Nine-year-old George says: “I used to find reading really hard because everyone else in my class was quite good and I wasn’t very good. It felt like I was missing out on things.
“I started getting a lot more help with my reading and then I got better at it, now it feels really good. I like reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, books like that. I find adventure books really interesting.”
Sara and Ishmael
Sara is a mother to two teenage boys and volunteers as a reading volunteer with three Year 6 children at a primary school in south London.
“I was really worried before I started that I wouldn’t be able to engage with the children or they wouldn’t like me or I wouldn’t know what to do. My two training days at [Born to Read partner] Beanstalk were just fantastic, really comprehensive, and they give you lots of scenarios. You do some role-play and you get lots of other people’s advice.
“The children have almost reduced me to tears with the joy and enchantment on their faces.
“My youngest son is a similar age [to Ishmael, one of the children I volunteer with] so I asked him what he liked reading. He gave me Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, one of his own books, so I brought it in for Ishmael and he just transformed.
“He runs down the stairs to read with me now and he really wanted to take the book home to finish it during the half term. I was so proud that he began to feel so connected with the book.”