What a difference a book makes…

Have a read of this hugely positive account from an ARCh volunteer who started reading with children in a local primary school after they retired.

After a hugely enjoyable 40-year career spent in professional communications, last summer I decided to ‘step off the business run mill’.

My ‘retirement plan’ was like all good communications – uncomplicated and unambiguous. More time spent pursuing my hobbies of watching sport, keeping fit, travelling and reading.

I deemed I would ‘put a bit back into the community’ through volunteering and the field of literacy was an area where I’d always felt I could best use my skills and experience. But where should I start? I warmed to the idea of working with an adult learning group, attracted by the thought of helping people who leave school with little or no reading and writing skills to eradicate this blight on their lives. But if adult literacy groups offer hope of a cure for illiteracy, I couldn’t help feeling that helping children to read before they leave school can actively prevent the problem – and prevention is always better than cure! So when I learned that ARCh provide Assisted Reading for Children in more than 100 primary schools throughout my home county I knew that this was the volunteering opportunity I’d been looking for.

I was unashamedly excited by the prospect of belonging to an organisation that is dedicated to making a lasting difference to the lives of children in Oxfordshire by inspiring them to discover the joy of reading.

After completing ARCh’s training support programme, I was seconded to a school in Wallingford where I was introduced to the Year Five boys who have become my Three Musketeers.

Two of the trio were ‘reluctant readers’ who lacked confidence while the other was said to “bark at print” and show little interest in books. In the 3 months we’ve read together, reading confidence has improved noticeably to the point where they happily read aloud in class.

The boy who barked at print – what a great book title that would make- has, to our mutual delight, read 6 books including a 300-page novel.

Becoming a volunteer reader with ARCh is truly one of the most inspiring and rewarding things I have ever done. And to think, I never really believed the adage that our schooldays are the best time of our lives. Thanks to ARCh – I do now!