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Local literacy problems tackled by reading charity Bookmark

Local literacy problems tackled by reading charity Bookmark

| by Tooting Newsie | Posted in News, Education, Charities & Community

Reading charity Bookmark is aiming to improve the levels of child literacy in Wandsworth. Their volunteers have been visiting their nearest primary school, twice a week for six weeks, to help children aged 5 to 8 develop their reading skills and confidence.

Local councillor Jo Rigby started volunteering with Bookmark last term and supported a child in Tooting:

“At our first session I opened a book and he pushed it away. I asked him why he didn’t want us to read.  He said, ‘I can’t read, everyone else can read but I can’t.’  We spent a few weeks building his confidence with word games. After four weeks he took a book out of the Bookmark Box and asked if we could read it. It was a real breakthrough. The one-to-one time needed to build his reading confidence is not available at the school – this is essential support.”  

By discovering that reading can be enjoyable, children are able to benefit from the extra support, long after the sessions are over. The National Literacy Trust found that children who like reading are five times as likely to read above their level than their peers.

Bookmark has grown considerably since it was founded last year. At the end of the summer term, its programme ran in four schools in London, and now it runs in 27.

Kitty Higgins, CEO of Bookmark, said, “We are so pleased to be working in Tooting, training local residents to support the children in their community to read. Reading is so much more than just enjoying books. It is absolutely essential skill for succeeding in education and employment, and we know that adults who struggle to read are more likely to have health problems, low confidence, and even a shorter life expectancy. We hope that more local people in the area will volunteer with Bookmark so that we can ensure that children here aren’t held back by lacking such a fundamental skill.”

Bookmark are looking for volunteers to join their community and have developed a flexible and accessible volunteering programme. On the Bookmark app (available on Android and iOS), volunteers choose which school they want to work with and book sessions that fit into their schedule. So, if you have an hour to spare each week in Tooting, you can help a child in the neighbourhood learn to read.

Visit to find out more and sign up, or get in touch at


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