Literacy charity discuss benefits of shared reading at Gravesend Library

PUBLISHED: 12:29 26 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:29 26 October 2015

Beanstalk volunteers at Gravesend Library

Beanstalk volunteers at Gravesend Library


Last year over 63,000 children in the UK left school without being able to read to the required level

A national children’s literacy charity held its termly meeting on Friday at Gravesend Library.

Beanstalk recruits, vets, trains and supports volunteers to help primary school children with reading, was addressed by Educational Psychologist Rachel O’Connor who talked to them about the benefits of shared reading and gave lots of helpful tips to the volunteers on how they could help support children who were struggling to engage with reading.

Last year over 63,000 children in the UK left school without being able to read to the required level and this is something Beanstalk is trying to solve.

Beanstalk asks volunteer reading helpers to work with three children for a full year and see them for 30 minutes each twice a week.

During their sessions, each child will receive vital one-to-one time whereby they can read, talk and play games to improve their literacy skills.

Last year alone, Beanstalk was able to support over 1000 children in Kent and help them to read, grow and succeed, and they aim to increase that figure this year by 25%.

The benefits are not just there for the children though, many reading helpers at the meeting talked about how much they enjoy their time volunteering and how rewarding they find it.

One reading helper shared that although she had lived in the same area for over 20 years she had no real companions, however since joining Beanstalk she had found a new group of friends.

Despite requiring a minimum commitment to the charity of just one year, many volunteers stay for much longer.

Alvin Shaw and Bridget Whitaker have given over seven years each, Gwyneth Jones more than 14 years whilst Janette Garlick, pictured with her bouquet of flowers, has given a fantastic 18 years to the charity.

Ms Garlick volunteers at Westcourt Primary School in Gravesend and has supported more than 60 children during her time with Beanstalk.

Anyone wishing to volunteer can call the charity’s Maidstone Office on 01622 662026 or go online to find out more and apply at

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Gravesend Reporter