As the youngest of four children, Ravi got away with a lot. The general chaos of home meant he could easily slip under the radar without being noticed, without facing the wrath of his parents. And this applied to homework as well, which Ravi regularly failed to complete or hand in. Time was in short supply for everyone and Ravi took full advantage. The games console was an obliging and wholly engrossing companion. Needless to say, Ravi was doing poorly at school and actually disliked the entire idea of learning – numeracy, reading, spelling, but especially reading. As Ravi recalls, “Reading was work. It meant figuring out letters and sounds. It was slow. It was boring and I hated doing it!”
Such was the state of play when Maya and Tom, Doorstep Library Home Reading Volunteers, entered Ravi’s world. His mum was very receptive when they knocked on their door. Help was needed on all fronts and the volunteers offered such simple, basic assistance – reading to Ravi. The 6 year old’s reaction was the antithesis of his mum’s. He had no interest in books and made it quite clear. “Smiles were not plentiful when we first started with Ravi”, says Maya. “His body language said it all – deep set brow, folded arms – he did not want us there. And so Tom and I knew we had to win him over one session at a time.”
Tom adds, “We started with some of the more humorous books – Aliens Love Underpants, Farmer Duck, even a chapter from Horrid Henry. Giggles and laughs couldn’t be helped and we knew the books were working their magic.”
The Doorstep Library volunteers consistently visited Ravi in his home every week, bringing with them a rucksack full of books selected just for Ravi’s enjoyment. Their focus was simple: put the joy back into reading so that in time, Ravi would embrace books and seek them out for himself. Ravi preferred for the volunteers to read to him, but they knew by his choice of books that his reading ability was improving.
After two years of weekly one-on-one reading sessions, Ravi moved on to a homework club after school. But the seed had been planted and nurtured by Maya and Tom. Six months following, Maya ran into Ravi locally and, with shoulders thrust back, head held high, he announced to her, “I am reading chapter books now!” “He’s doing his homework as well now, and even getting it in on time,” said his mother with great pride.