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Sonja and James Holloway


The power of story telling

Sonja and James Holloway

As parents of young children, one of the times we value most is lying in bed with them every evening and reading stories before they go to sleep.

Last year, we were introduced to the charity, Chapter One, where we learnt that the average child in England does not get to experience this at bedtime. It was even more striking to find out that 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5-8 years do not own a single book. This of course has a dramatic effect on literacy and productivity later in life, with 43% of English adults now unable to read basic health information for example.

Chapter One's goal is to give every child the literacy skills needed to thrive. To achieve this they pair volunteers with less advantaged children, for 30min reading sessions every week (via the platform and hosted at their schools), with an aim of achieving at least 25 sessions through the academic year. Their data has shown that not only do these reading sessions generate enthusiasm within the children for stories, but that their reading levels increase by an average of 44% (or 3.49 on the reading scale).

Sonja and I signed up to be volunteers in September (at the start of the academic year) and after the initial security checks and training, we were assigned a pupil each from a school in the Southeast of England. Now every week, Sonja reads to 'Harlee' and I read to 'Charlie', helping them practice their phonics with a selection of online reading games and stories.

For two 5 year old children who didn't want to engage with reading at the start, it has been amazing to see their transformation, with their teacher telling us they now look forward to the weekly sessions (and both of them have gone up multiple reading levels). We have also been told that they have got more confident at school (especially Charlie who was apparently very shy).

We really hope this makes a small difference in both Harlee and Charlie’s life, helping them ignite a passion for reading to take with them as they grow up. Our wish for them is to have the same chances as our own children and a bright future ahead.

Love and TOY,

James & Sonja

Thank you Sonja and James.
Stories appeal to the our senses and our emotions.
Much love and TOY Monique

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