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Let’s Talk Reading

Let’s Talk Reading is a small, volunteer-led, Ipswich charity, which started in 2016, to encourage parents and children to enjoy reading together. Our work is informed by national research and is designed to change the persistent problem of low literacy across Ipswich which seriously reduces life chances for many children and young people in the town. Evidence shows that sharing stories and reading together provides children with life-changing benefits that can positively impact their wellbeing, health, creativity and educational attainment. Initially, we focussed on children from 0-5, offering Storytimes in local pre-schools and nurseries, and book bags for 2-year-olds starting nursery. Since then we have expanded our range of free services with: 

  • ‘Let’s Talk Babies’ parent and baby groups in Whitehouse, Chantry and Gainsborough

  • Book bags at Christmas for all children in nurseries and playgroups in Ipswich

  • Books for all ages at community events and through local support organisations such as Iceni, Homestart, Lighthouse and Suffolk Family Carers

  • One-to-one reading support for adults through ‘Let’s Read Ipswich’

We have a part-time co-ordinator, and the rest of our work is carried out by an amazing team of friendly and dedicated volunteers. We have about 20 volunteers for Storytimes and ‘Let’s Talk Babies’ with a further 30 Let’s Read Ipswich volunteer coaches. Our work includes imaginative storytelling for young children, packing book bags, and helping with evaluation. At our parent and baby groups, volunteers help set up our facilitated baby sensory sessions designed to help babies with their development and new parents with their wellbeing. Our ‘Let’s Read Ipswich’ coaches work on a one-to-one basis supporting adults who have left school with low literacy skills to improve their reading during short sessions each week in local community buildings. 

Our work is primarily funded through multiple applications to local charities enabling us to provide our services free to Ipswich residents. In the last year we have:

  • delivered over 5,000 high quality books to children in Ipswich 

  • carried out over 100 Storytimes in pre-schools and nurseries

  • worked with 109 families attending ‘Let’s Talk Babies’

  • supported 20 active readers through ‘Let’s Read Ipswich’

Our volunteers are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, sharing practice at our termly meetings and supporting new people as they join – we are always keen to recruit more volunteers to expand what we can do! 

The organisations and individuals we work with are very positive about our work and the difference it makes to children, their parents and adults who want to improve their reading skills. We introduce new books and a range of skills in working with children and adults and highlight the importance and benefits of reading from pre-birth to adulthood. Some examples of our work are:

  • Parents at early years settings have commented on how nice it is to be invited into the nursery and be included in the Storytime. They were surprised at how much their children enjoyed the singing session. Our volunteer explained how important nursery rhymes are for early literacy and numeracy skills and parents thought about how they could do similar activities at home. 

  • We are working with the East of England Early Years Stronger Practice Hub on a regional project funded by the DfE to support pre-school children affected by lockdowns. We have chosen books about diversity, emotional well-being, ‘the world around us’ and dual language books for distribution to early years settings in Ipswich and Norwich. We have also been asked by the Asset Academy Chain to help to find books specifically about children with special needs, to use with those children, and their peer group to widen their inclusion. 

  • At two settings this term, where we have had children with additional needs, we have been able to adapt the Storytimes for them, with advice from their support workers. One was a child who has a hearing loop, and by wearing the microphone connected to his hearing aids, the stories and games were accessible for him. In another setting we had a child who was sight impaired but could hear the stories. We gave her toys we were using in Storytime to feel and hold and found books in our library collection with textures and flaps. The group has made a note of the books so that they can start using similar ones with her. 

  • The learning disability charity ‘Genesis’ has sponsored two of their adult workers through the ‘Let’s Read Ipswich’ programme. They have both recently completed all five workbooks with their coach. The organisers at ‘Genesis’ have said how they’ve seen a huge growth in confidence in both of them as well as major improvements in reading.

If you would like to find out more about our work or volunteering with us, please contact us at or 07763 702267. 

We’d love to hear from you! 

Clair Pyper



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