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Local charity celebrates 15 years of reading with youngsters

Local charity ABC to Read is celebrating 15 years of providing trained volunteers to support Berkshire children who are struggling to read. Thousands of local youngsters have benefited from the scheme over that time, improving not only their reading ability but their enjoyment of the pastime as well as their general attitudes and confidence.

To celebrate its 15th birthday, the charity hopes to help a record number of children develop a love of reading to enhance their lives. Plans include supporting a school and orphanage in Malawi by setting up a library, as well as launching a Reading Buddy workshop in secondary schools, training sixth form pupils to support younger ones, thus improving literacy attainment and school cohesion.

ABC to Read's model of assigning a one-to-one volunteer mentor to work with children identified by their schools as struggling most with their reading, is achieving excellent results with 97% of the children who benefit from an ABC to Read mentor improving in their attitudes towards reading. The result comes from the charity’s most recent annual report, which also highlights that 93% of the youngsters working with them have improved in their reading accuracy.

The benefits of good reading and comprehension extend beyond the classroom, demonstrated by the 92% of respondents who said their children’s general self-confidence and self-esteem had increased thanks to the time spent with their ABC to Read mentor. Many of the schools assign their pupil premium to provide an ABC to Read mentor, investing in children's broader wellbeing.

Odette Moss, who has been a volunteer mentor with the charity since its beginning, commented: 'My experiences since retiring and working fifteen years for this organisation have been the most rewarding and satisfying of my varied career. I have learnt so much about the lives of children today; some of their stories are a little sad, others just like to talk to you as they are often lonely. When you go into your class to collect your child and all the pupils shout 'Can we come too' you know the work you are doing is worthwhile and that you are giving children a better future of fun, learning and imagination.'

Marcia Rowlinson, ABC to Read CEO, said: 'I am very thankful for the many volunteers who have served our local children so faithfully over the years. We have more demand from schools than ever before and continue to search for volunteers who can support our youngsters as they learn to read well and nurture a love of stories and learning. We are looking forward to celebrating this milestone by broadening the impact of our work, introducing a record number of children to the joy of reading.'

There are still spaces available for any new volunteers to take part in training and for schools to sign up to the scheme. For more information about training days or joining the scheme as a school or volunteer mentor, contact: abctoread@btconnect.com