Introducing children to the joy of reading opens up a lifelong pleasure for them. And good literacy skills increase their life chances.
So when young volunteers from Hillcrest Centre were thinking about what they could do for local children, they turned to Croydon Library with a proposal to run Library Buddies sessions on Saturday mornings.
Volunteer leader Susannah said: “Croydon Library really liked our idea of weekly sessions where we listen to the children read and do fun, book-based activities with them.
“Many of the children who come to the sessions do not speak English at home, so this is a great opportunity to help them develop further in vital reading skills.”
Sofia (15) said: “I really enjoy volunteering at the library, both reading to the children and also listening to them read. It is fun seeing the children’s different stories and ideas. I think it’s great that I’m able to give back to the library where I used to go when I was younger.”
Nine million adults with poor literacy
Nine million adults across England have low literacy or numeracy skills according to a recent article in “FE News”. Adults with poor literacy have poorer health, with 43% of adults aged 18-65 routinely unable to understand health information. A scheme like the Library Buddies can make a real difference for some children. Hillcrest volunteer Emily (17) can see that sharing her reading skills with the children is “really impactful”.
The staff at Croydon Library are delighted with the Library Buddies scheme. Librarian Rumena said: “It was wonderful to see the library busy again.” She also told the Hillcrest volunteers that she had received great verbal feedback from parents.
Tia, who also works at the library, emailed the Hillcrest volunteers: “I hear very good reports of the Library Buddies sessions - many thanks, and well done!”
A big incentive for the children to explore and expand their reading is collecting stickers in their Library Buddies record, with the promise of bronze, silver and gold certificates ahead.
“It’s great to be part of such a worthwhile project,” said Susannah.