Wanting to encourage her children to read prompted Theresa, 33 and from South Normanton in Derbyshire, to sign up for Reading Ahead through the English classes she does with Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service. She told us recently about the difference it has made.
I was too shy to ask for help
As a child, I did have books at home that my mum bought me, and I would try to read them. At school though, I was very shy and I didn't have the confidence to tell the teachers I was struggling. I have a lazy eye; I have to wear glasses and I felt that everyone would laugh at me and say I was thick.
When I left school, I wanted to do a childcare course and work with children, but I didn't have enough confidence in my reading, writing and maths, or good enough grades. Then when my son and daughter started coming home from school and asking for help with their homework, I couldn't grasp anything, and I had to get them to ask their dad. It made me feel stressed and upset, but I want to do the best I can for them, so I thought, "I've got to do something about this".
Reading Ahead gave me confidence
I started taking classes at The Hub and my English tutor told us about Reading Ahead. I thought it would be nice to have a go, especially for my kids - if they see me picking up a book then they will too.
I read a mixture of children's books, adult stories and Quick Reads. I like Quick Reads because they have big print and I don't strain my eyes.
I also enjoyed writing about what I'd read in the Reading Ahead diary, and in class we would chat about our favourite books. Mine was a children's story about a rabbit who turned into different animals.
Reading Ahead made me want to try follow-on books to the ones I'd read. So I read more than six books, like the Magic Kitten series (by Sue Bentley); I got them from the library at The Hub. I like reading now - I didn't at first but now I can pick up a book and enjoy it, thanks to Reading Ahead. Right now I'm reading a book from the Pony Club Secrets series by Stacy Gregg. I mostly read for myself when the kids are at school after I have finished the housework, or when they are in bed.
When I completed Reading Ahead I felt proud, and my partner was proud of me too. Do it - it really builds up your confidence.
Giving my children a better future
I'm now confident enough about reading to help my children with their homework. I read with them too, at bedtime when they are settling down. I read a bit, they read a bit and I get them both involved in the story. I try to choose books that they will want to look at - for example, my daughter is really into horses and likes animal stories.
I feel so much better about myself because I can help them. It's good for my daughter - she can be like me; not very confident and she can put herself down. She will say, "I can't do it Mum, I am thick." I've told her that Mummy wasn't good at reading but thanks to Reading Ahead she is getting better and if she sticks at it, she will too.
Now when she comes home, she will tell me what she has been reading and I will show her what I'm reading, and it's encouraging her. I want things to be different for her. She is very creative, so we will sit and make birthday cards, reading the instructions together.
My son has also struggled, but lately his reading levels have gone up. I am really pleased, and it's helping him with his handwriting. His school sends home a book with words for him to practice, and we read and write them together.
The teachers say what I'm doing is really good for my children. I want them to be confident, to get good grades, go to college and have the chance of getting a job they like. Now I can help them have that.
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