Bookmark Reading and Bright Network
Did you know that the UK has one of the lowest literacy rates in the developed world? And that 380,000 children spent lockdown in homes without a single book?
Children’s literacy charity Bookmark wants every child to read. Yesterday, the Bookmark team spoke at our Bright Network Internship Experience UK 2021. Bookmark CEO Kitty Higgins told students and graduates about the huge impact the pandemic has had on children, particularly the most disadvantaged in our communities.
“Even before COVID-19, eight children in an average class would have left school unable to read well. Unfortunately, children’s learning – particularly reading and also maths – has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Children have lost learning and additional reading support is needed now more than ever.”
Bookmark delivers volunteer-led online reading support to primary school children aged 5-9 across England. This year, Bookmark volunteers have delivered over 15,000 online reading sessions to children. Demand for support is growing fast with the huge focus on children’s education recovery as we head towards a new academic year.
Corporate teams, like our team at Bright Network, have rallied around to support children’s literacy during the pandemic – through volunteering, fundraising and donations. A team from Bright Network is bravely tackling the Three Peaks in September to show our support for Bookmark. We’ll be walking, climbing and fundraising to change the story for more children across the country.
If your team is looking for a way to make a direct and lasting impact on the lives of children while also building team engagement and wellbeing, Bookmark is a fantastic charity to support.
The Bookmark reading programme consists of two, thirty-minute sessions a week, for six weeks between a volunteer and pupil. They read books chosen by the child and play literacy focused games, through a secure online platform. The fun, interactive sessions focus on building the child’s enjoyment of reading, their reading confidence, and their skills.
Bookmark is a tech-driven charity and volunteers book their reading programmes on an app, choosing sessions to fit in with their schedule. The convenience of volunteering online has opened the opportunity to even more people during lockdown, as one volunteer, Dipika, explains:
“The programme being online is what has actually enabled me to do it! I’ve got a job and I’m busy, but volunteering online means I’ve been able to give the time. I can finish a work call and go straight into reading with a child. I think the online programme helps you to reach more children and makes it really easy for volunteers to be involved.”
She has found the experience of helping a child catch up on their reading really rewarding. “At first he was really struggling but he got so confident that he was saying to me, ‘I know that one! I know that one! I can do this, I know that word.’ As an adult you can get so much enjoyment from books and it’s really nice to do something to pass on that enjoyment to children.”
It’s not just the children who benefit from the Bookmark programme; last term 46% of volunteers said the experience had improved their own wellbeing. During a time when wellbeing and team engagement has never been more important, it’s great to have the opportunity to do something amazing together to change a child’s story.