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!

How to dress ….

Moira’s been in the office today and we’ve been talking about fundraising.  As with most voluntary organisations in the current climate, this is a subject that’s often in our minds.

We were thinking about the many skills/talents of our volunteers and students. This led to thinking about a Got to Read ‘lecture’ series – do we know about things that other people might enjoy hearing about in a light-hearted way,  and would be prepared to donate a few pounds for?

Now,  Moira used to work in the formal wear area of Coes and what she doesn’t know about tying a cravat isn’t worth knowing.  She also started to tell me about braces and pleats.  At that point I realised that those of us who ‘just’ have to put on a dress for that special occasion have it easy.

So, there we have it, our first idea for a Got to Read lecture “How to dress your bloke proper”.

Interested?  Watch this space for more details coming soon (or leave us a message below)


Gainsborough library reading partner meet ups – lovely vibe

Here’s another update about Got to Read activities.  This week, volunteer Tracy Bose talks about supporting reading activities at Gainsborough Library.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve started using Gainsborough Library as a meeting point for Got to Read reading partners.

On the night we meet, the library ‘closes’ at 5pm and I get there just before then to get a key and sort out hot drinks. This is such a treat, as I’ve always loved libraries, right from my Mum taking me as a little ‘un to our local one in Bristol (it was based in a park and it was quite a surprise to me to find out that not everyone got to go on the swings after choosing their books).

Soon after 5pm, the other volunteers and students arrive, grab a tea or coffee and then settle down in different parts of the library.  Everyone is there to work together in their pairs on reading and writing skills.

In theory,  learning could be a serious business and the reading partners seem to focus very quickly on what they’ve chosen to do that week.  But from where I sit in the middle, with my head in a book (bliss), it’s great to hear how much laughter is mixed in with the quiet periods of concentration.

I’m loving these evening meet-ups, they’re relaxed, fun and sociable and I think that’s a perfect set-up for adult learners to get the most out of learning.  And it’s in a LIBRARY – what could be better?

Tracy Bose – GtR volunteer

We have room for  more student/volunteer pairings at the Gainsborough Library evening session which runs on Tuesday between 5pm and 7pm. 

 If you know of any adult who would like some free, friendly, one to one support with reading or writing, please pass on our contact details:

 Please call on M: 07528 147654



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.”