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Answers for the Willis Book Quiz (February 2015)

And the book Answers are…..

1. Tom Cruise
2. Scarlett Johansson
3. 1953
4. Spinalonga
5. Swindon
6. Kathleen
7. Admiral Benbow Inn
8. Bravo two Zero
9. Truman Capote
10. Amanda Hogkinson

Help! We’re looking for affordable office space in Ipswich.

The hunt is on to find Got to Read a new home before the end of June this year.

We are currently based above the Cornhill in Ipswich Town Centre.

The advantage of the town centre location is that it’s only a bus ride away for most of our Ipswich-based students.  It’s also easy to give directions on finding us to any potential student,  as most people know where the town hall is.

We’ve been lucky enough to have been part of Community Action Suffolk’s Community Hub set -up, which has offered affordable hosting and desk space to small community organisations like ours.  It’s been brilliant for getting us set-up and going, but the lease is ending and we need to be out by the end of June.

We need a space, somewhere near the town centre, which is big enough to take two desks, two filing cabinets and a book case.  We can use mobile phones, but need internet access if possible.

A small room big enough for two people to sit at a desk for one-to-one working would be brilliant as well.

And the room needs to be accessible for people with mobility problems.

And affordable……. did I mention affordable?

So, please, if you know of anywhere suitable, or any organisation who might be willing to host us for up to a year, could you please, please, please let me know. Ten weeks is not long to find a new home …….

Thank you

Tracy M: 07939 972792

Light-bulb moments and David Bowie

Sometimes it takes a while to find out which way of learning is going to suit a student.   The beauty of one-to-one working is that it’s ok to be flexible, drop something that’s not working and try something different.

Then sometimes there’s a light-bulb moment when somebody finds a thing that will really work for them.

I’ve been meeting with Tom* for a few weeks now and it’s been going well.  But this week he was feeling stressed and couldn’t concentrate on phonetic exercises. *name changed.

So we started doing a ‘language experience’ exercise instead (which is part of the GtR volunteer training). The student tells you a couple of sentences in their own words.  You write them down in pencil, read them back to the student, who then copies over them while you do another copy.

Working on one sentence at a time, you cut the copy into separate words.  The student then reconstructs the sentence from the cut-up words.  Something about the fact that it IS their own words makes it easier for most people to remember and recognise what they’re seeing.

Tom put the first sentence together twice and then identified each word separately from randomly selected words put in front of him.

He visibly cheered up and was concentrating hard and then said “this is what David Bowie used to do.  He cut up his songs and mixed them up and made new songs out of them”.

David Bowie is one of Tom’s musical heroes, so he’s very enthused by learning more this way.  We decided that next week we’re going to look at some David Bowie and also some Ozzy Osbourne lyrics.

And if we have another black night, we won’t be afraid to try some ch-ch-ch-changes.





Sight tests and the letter ‘H’

It’s really interesting meeting Got to Read students – we’re currently working with students aged 20 to 70+ and they have all had different experiences and backgrounds.

For most of the students, learning to read past traditional school age is a big challenge in it’s own right, but it’s a constant learning curve for us all at Got to Read, hearing about some of the things which cause extra difficulties, because as a reader it’s so easy to take things for granted.

Each time something crops up, we pass the message on to all of our volunteers, just in case there is something useful which can be used with their reading partner.

Here are a couple of examples from the last few weeks. All students names are changed.

The Sight Test

John is in his late forties. We noticed that he was having difficulty seeing texts, although he wears glasses.  He said he’d never had a sight test. The glasses are reading glasses which he tried on in a shop to see which ones made the most difference.

John said that he wouldn’t go the opticians because they might ask him to read out letters and he can’t do that yet and thought he’d be embarrassed. I had no idea how opticians do sight tests for adults who can’t read so I called in to his local optician.  They explained it wasn’t a problem, for example they often tested patients where English is a 2nd language who needed an alternative.  They have a set of tests involving shapes.

John just needed to make the optician aware that he wasn’t confident with letters. He felt reassured by this and immediately booked an appointment.

John also described how letters seemed to move around. We tested him for visual stress and found a coloured overlay which he said improved things for him. Hopefully, the overlay and a correct prescription for glasses, will make a huge difference to his comfort in reading.

The Letter ‘H’

Barbara is also in her forties.  She said that she was worried that she said “all of her sounds wrong”.  We worked through the alphabet together and ‘H’ was the only sound that gave her trouble.  She couldn’t say it or hear it.

So, for Barbara,  hearing ‘his’ and ‘is’ are exactly the same thing, which makes her life really difficult when we’re using a phonetic system together for learning to read.

I’ve been spending time looking at online resources which give suggestions of how to get someone making the ‘H’ sound.  Think exhalation and turn that into sound!

It’s made me realise how much accents are a part of what we do and I suspect it gets harder hearing different sounds as you get older.  Our students don’t have it easy!



Book Hangover?

Loving this post from Sadie over on our FB page.  Do you find it hard to move on to a new book when your last one is still taking over the book -reading space in your brain?


Congratulations to Caroline!


Caroline Grimwood, GtR student with reading partner volunteer Heather Prophet

It’s Friday and here’s something uplifting to end the week!  Congratulations are due to Got to Read student Caroline Grimwood for receiving a Certificate of Achievement during Adult Learners’ Week  in recognition of her commitment to learning. Caroline brought the certificate along to the weekly meet-up at Gainsborough Library to share with us.

Caroline was Got to Read’s first ever student and has been meeting regularly with volunteer reading partner Heather Prophet. Caroline was really pleased to have all of her hard work acknowledged and said “I have now learnt the basic reading skills, which I am building on all the time, pushing myself to do better and I am getting to grips with writing and spelling.  My experience so far has given me lots of confidence to read to my son and I am really proud of myself for what I have achieved”.

Heather nominated Caroline for the Adult Learner of the Year awards because she was so impressed by her achievements, enthusiasm and determination. In the nomination she said “now that Caroline can read books appropriate for her 3 year old, she is setting herself higher goals all the time and we have since practised reading from formal correspondence, utility bills and even a copy of ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ which she saw and thought she might like to read to herself”

Happy weekend everyone!








World Book Night 2013








Pirates Ahoy! Come and join us on ‘Treasure Island’

We’re absolutely thrilled because we’ve been given 500 books to give away by the lovely folk at World Book Night to share our love of reading.

We’re teaming up again with Gainsborough Community Library (who have treasure chestgot 300 books to give). And because one of our books is the classic ‘Treasure Island’ and because we think that books are the best sort of treasure, we bring you our pirate-themed World Book Night event.  Arrrrrrrr!

The free library event runs from 4-9pm.  There will be family crafts, games and book quizzes until 7pm and then a quieter time from 7-9pm.  We hope to encourage people to read something that they haven’t read before or share ideas about books they love.

The purpose of World Book Night is to share the joy of reading to those who don’t already regularly read.  So we’ll be going out and about on the night itself, and over the coming week to give our books away in that spirit.

Look out for pirates bearing books!

Moira – Got to Read Volunteer Guest Post

It’s been a very busy, and productive, first year for Got to Read, and we’ve neglected our blog while we’ve been busy training volunteers and getting started with our one to one reading partnerships.

We’re going to start posting again regularly, and we’re starting off with a guest post from Moira, who was one of the first people to sign up with us as a volunteer.

“ Hello, my name is Moira and I am proud to be a volunteer on the Got to Read scheme.  I was one of the first ‘intake’ of volunteers to undertake training in 2012.   Having retired from work in 2011 on medical grounds, I had been looking for a voluntary role that would be fulfilling, and would enable me to use some of my free time. 

 I happened upon the Got to Read scheme on the internet, and contacted Wendy with regard to information.  Wendy returned my mail, saying that the first training session would be taking place the very next day, and would I be able to attend?  I was happy to accept, and joined Wendy and Tracy with a number of other volunteers at Gainsborough Library.  During that initial training session, we were introduced to one another and to the Got to Read scheme.   

Wendy and Tracy took us through how the scheme was developed, made us aware of the extent of the need for adult literacy schemes, and how – as volunteers – our skills would be developed.  The whole session was, as are all our training sessions and meetings, relaxed, friendly and informative.

 Shortly after joining the scheme, I was ‘partnered’ with my first student.  We meet for an hour each week at a local venue, based around 6 week ‘blocks’ of meetings.  One of the biggest benefits of the Got to Read scheme is that students are helped on a one-to-one basis.  My student had enrolled in adult literacy schemes before, but did not complete them as he did not feel comfortable in a class situation. 

 The Got to Read scheme has, in this instance, proved highly successful.  My student’s confidence has improved enormously, and therefore his literacy skills have improved to the extent that he is now able to read labels when shopping, to read newspaper articles etc.   

My student said that he would like to continue meeting up in order to further increase his skills.  This is another bonus of the Got to Read scheme.  The sessions are tailored to what the student says they need and there is no set time limit, so we can work over as many six week blocks as the student needs.”

 On a personal level, becoming a volunteer for the scheme has proved to be a fulfilling and tremendously rewarding experience.  I have made new friends, gained new skills, and now have a very rewarding hobby.”

World Book Night 2012

 World Book Night 2012

Ever wondered what you’d get if you took enthusiastic volunteers, a big bus, over 200 free books, candles, a library, a company of Girl Guides and William Shakespeare’s birthday, and mixed them all  together? Well, having tried it, we can say that it makes a big, fantastic World Book Night experience!

 Why we were doing it

Got to Read would like to get every one in Suffolk reading more and reading together, so the World Book Night idea is something very close to our hearts. Having applied many, many months ago to be World Book Night givers, we had more than 200 books that we loved, so that we could give them away on the night and share our enthusiasm for books and reading with other people.

The Big Book Bus


Voices for Gainsborough Library (V4GL) very kindly sponsored the hire of a beautiful heritage bus, so World Book Night started at 3pm for us, when we loaded up the bus and set off around the Gainsborough area of Ipswich. 


Who cares if it rains if you have a book and a bus?

Our first stop was Pipers Vale Primary school.  Children joined in the Design a Book Cover competition, organised by staff from Gainsborough Community Library, while we talked to the mums and dads and gave away our first books.  Yippee. Nobody seemed to mind that it was pouring down with rain outside.



Book givers ready to go

We went from the school to other places around Gainsborough, stopping and chatting to people about books and giving more and more away.  The bus attracted a lot of attention and we got lots of lovely comments from those taking the books.  There was no stopping the volunteers, who dived into shops, stopped people in the street and even left a few copies in a public loo on Murray Road (anyone claimed them yet?)

Candle-lit reading and Shakespeare’s birthday

Candle-lit reading at Gainsborough Library

After 3 fantastic hours on the bus, but having to brave the cold and wet weather at stops, we were glad to get back to the warmth and cheer of Gainsborough Library.  The lovely cafe staff (if you haven’t tried the cafe there, you really should) had hot drinks waiting for us while we got set up for the next activities.

We arranged our few remaining books, which looked beautiful by candle light.  Then the 29th Ipswich All Hallows Guides arrived and started rehearsing key scenes from Romeo and Juliet with the help of Got to Read volunteer Selena Timmins-Chapman.  Selena had chosen bits which really appealed to the Guides and their performance of everything, but especially the final death scenes, was inspiring.  William Shakespeare would have been proud.

Romeo, Juliet and the Guard lie dead in the 'tomb'

What were the best bits?

The best bit of all about the night was getting out and about and talking to everyone about books and reading.  We gave away all of our books and hopefully, people will enjoy them and pass them on to someone else. 

And it was a real buzz to be around people who love reading so much – as well as Got to Read volunteers, we were joined on the bus by givers from Gainsborough Library, Club 4 Teenz, V4GL, Ipswich Children’s Book Group and Arts Council East.  Not to forget Ipswich Waterstones who arranged for our books to reach us and sent us children’s activity packs.  And Christine, another World Book Night giver, who’d seen our Tweets and joined us on the bus.

World Book Night 2013?

Did you get or give a book during World Book Night this year?  We’d love to hear about your experiences if you’d like to leave us some comments below.

We really hope that there will be a World Book Night 2013, so get in touch with us if you’d like to join in with another event next year.


Volunteer Training – Raring to go!

Our first Got to Read volunteers completed their training last week, and are ready to start being matched up with partners who’d like some support with reading and writing.

We met up at Gainsborough Community Library, where we really enjoyed learning about some easy ways to help someone start building up their confidence with reading.  We practised them on each other and we also found out more about our own learning styles.

It was a morning filled with great ideas and a lot of laughter and I felt that we all earned our certificates!

I think you can see here  what a friendly and cheery group our volunteers are.  So if you know someone who might want a bit of informal, friendly help with reading or writing, please help them to get in touch with us.

You can give either Wendy T: 07527 474218 or Tracy T: 07528 147654 a call or you can send us an email at and we’ll get in touch.  There is more information about how the reading support works here.

And if you think you’d like to be a Got to Read volunteer, please get in touch, as we have another set of free training days coming up very soon.

Happy Easter!