Doorstep Library volunteers, Leslie and Penny, visited seven-year-old Levi every week to read with him and lend him books. However, Levi was reluctant to engage with the visits or the books that Leslie and Penny chose for him, although he maintained that he wanted the volunteers to keep visiting. He would rarely turn off his computer games during the visits, and they weren’t initially sure how to help him become engaged with the books and reading.
After some thought Leslie and Penny decided to give Levi a little space, thinking he might be more comfortable if their visits, whilst remaining regular, were shorter and took place on his doorstep. On their next visits, the pair only swapped books with Levi at the door, explaining that they weren’t coming inside that week.
After a couple of weeks of giving Levi this space, something amazing happened: Leslie and Penny knocked on Levi’s door and Levi himself opened it and warmly insisted they come inside. This visit was unrecognisable from their previous experiences, the computer console was off, and Levi eagerly sat with the volunteers, looking at the books they had brought, discussing what they were reading, and even reading aloud with them.
Since this visit, Leslie and Penny’s relationship with Levi has transformed. He remains positive and engaged with their visits and the Doorstep Library volunteers are really enjoying seeing his love for reading grow.
It was clear that a little bit of space was what Levi needed to realise how much he valued our volunteers’ visits. This relationship provided some useful learning for Doorstep Library around methods for engaging reluctant young readers across all of our projects, reminding us about the balance between modelling our own enthusiasm for books and reading and giving a reluctant child enough space to actively choose their own relationship with books. Our volunteers share their experiences confidentially, enabling us to learn and develop the best service possible for all our families and ensuring we can support more children like Levi to grow in confidence and develop at their own pace.