I would like to draw your attention to this story from Anna Fleming, one of our Young Person’s Project Workers, who reads with looked-after children:
When I first met K (15) her foster carer did not think K would agree to take part in the project:
“she’s refused tutors before, she probably won’t want to do it.”
I explained I was not a tutor, and K responded well to the relaxed, open and friendly style of the sessions. Initially she was very shy; she has low confidence and self-esteem, but during the reading sessions she has developed more confidence to express her thoughts and ideas.
K particularly enjoys the poems we read together. Every week I bring a couple of adult poems to go with the story we’re reading. K likes to relate to the poems, and this boosts her self-esteem and confidence. When we read ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou, K was taken aback by how much she liked it:
“I don’t like English in school, but this is different … it seems like it’s written about you when you’re reading it. My boyfriend says that about me [pointing to a line] that I’m cute, but I don’t think I am.”
From this, we had a conversation about different types of beauty and reasons to admire women. Afterwards I offered her the poem to keep, which she refused. Then after a few minutes, she said:
“I think I will keep it you know.”
K told me she enjoys writing stories, but because she finds writing very difficult, she does not often have the confidence to write them down. She was delighted when I asked her to submit a story for the young people’s magazine, and she was very proud when she saw it in print. She immediately showed it off to her carer, who was also interested in the magazine:
“That looks really good, I want to have a look through.”
It was great to see K share her interest and achievement with her carer and receive such warm support.
K lives in a busy household which is often noisy and hectic with demanding young children around. K tells me she listens to music in her room to escape. Our sessions give her an hour a week of calm at home, where she receives attention, sympathy and the opportunity to share her thoughts and concerns. Hopefully, she will develop the confidence to continue reading alone and find solace in books as well as music.
This is the exact reason why we need people to sponsor our reader runners in the Liverpool Team Challenge 5K on Sunday, running to get the next generation reading. (You can catch up with the fitness diary here.)