Help to give a child the gift of reading

Sharon Allen with Katie Wayland at Grendon Primary School
Sharon Allen with Katie Wayland at Grendon Primary School

A campaign to get volunteers into Northamptonshire schools to help children with their reading has been hailed a success after 60 people signed up.

Get Northamptonshire Reading is a campaign led by the national charity Beanstalk, which gives one-to-one literacy support to children in primary schools.

In April last year, the charity teamed up with the Northamptonshire Telegraph and our sister paper, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, in a bid to find volunteers to help up to 900 youngsters in schools in our area improve their reading.

The charity wants to find 200 volunteers, and says it is delighted that 60 people have signed up in nine months so far.

Each Beanstalk reading helper works with three children and sees each child for two 30-minute sessions a week, during term-time, for a whole year.

Regional director for Beanstalk Sam Morris said: 
“Together they read, play and talk.

“With Beanstalk’s support the child’s approach to learning and enjoying reading is often transformed.

“The new year would be a good time to think about taking on a new challenge.

“We encourage potential volunteers to get in contact with us directly if they think they could give a young child the gift of reading this year.

“Our aim is to reach out to 18,000 children nationally by 2017 but to do this we urgently need more volunteers.

“Volunteering as a Beanstalk reading helper is extremely rewarding, makes a lasting difference to children’s lives and is a great way to give something back to your community.”

The charity says that in Northamptonshire about 17 per cent of pupils (1,308 children) who took the 2013 Key Stage 2 Reading SATs failed to reach the required standard compared with the national average of 14 per cent of children.

Across Northamptonshire, the percentage of pupils making expected progress between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 fell from 87 per cent in 2012 to 84 per cent in 2013.

Find out more

Beanstalk was founded in 1973 and the charity was originally known as Volunteer Reading Help.

It was originally based only in London but in the past four decades branches have opened all over the country.

To find out more about the Get Northants Reading campaign, phone 01604 720969 or visit