Right to Read: Guest Blog

Books. I love books. Looking at them, holding them, talking about them and most of all, reading them. Always have done, ever since I can remember. It is one of my greatest pleasures and fortunately seems to be one I have passed to my own children.

However, in a previous career I worked in child development and found the reality that so many children don’t have access to this pastime saddening. The practice of sharing books with people, particularly your family, is a lovely experience. Being able to read is a gateway to knowledge, opportunities, escape and fun, and is an important part of a child’s development. Book sharing from the earliest age helps with speech and language, then the springboard of primary education into further education and life chances are all still heavily reliant on good literacy.

With this in mind I have always had the best of intentions to go into school as an adult and help children with reading, but until now I’ve never quite got around to it. The hours I wasn’t at work during the day were quickly filled with boring every day jobs or other commitments. When I started at Benenden Health and heard about the opportunity to volunteer through the Right to Read programme I was so happy. To know that my employer is encouraging me to give back in an area that I’m passionate about makes me feel valued as a colleague, and their support for the local schools in placing 10 of us shows they recognise the importance of the scheme.

Today was the training session where the headteacher from Naburn Primary went through the phonics system and how children learn to read at school. We were given tips on questions to ask and how to aid their reading so it’s meaningful; not to just read the words for them or to let them struggle. We will be listening to children who need that bit of extra support and one to one time.

Emma Keef, CSR and Engagement Co-ordinator, Benenden Health