Shaun's story: Reading the newspaper
Shaun's inspiring story.
Click on the picture above to hear Shaun Allison's inspiring story of learning to read.
My name is Shaun Allison and I'm from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. I didn't enjoy going to school. English was my worst subject – I didn't like it and I couldn't do it.
I was classed as being a bit 'thick', that's what I was called. I've always remembered that and, I've... to be honest, I think I believed it.
One of the jobs that I had when I left school was being a labourer. I used to put these signs up but I didn't necessarily understand them. Some of the words, you know, I might be able to read it but I don't really understand what it actually means.
I used to get one of the lads to read the newspaper to me and I'd bribe him by saying, "Read that article to me and I'll give you a cigarette."
When work started to dry up, I started getting involved in crime. Once I'd started going to probation, it was the probation service that advised me to go to college. And I was dreading it and dreading it and dreading it and then I met the tutor who was going to be teaching us, and she was brilliant! Not like at school.
Now I can read the local newspaper and now I run a reading group every Friday at my local library, and it's brilliant. So now I help other people to read and I'm trying to get them all to the level that I'm at.
[Reading to his reading group] "Let it go, Jack, and stop being stupid." Does anybody else want to read any?
I will, if you want. "When we get through..."
I've basically turned my back on crime, and being able to read and write has actually empowered me. My job prospects, now, are a lot better now.
I'm looking at working with offenders, because I'm sure reading and writing has helped me to change my life.
Quick tips for tutors
- A short video about Shaun Allison, who learned to read and write as an adult.
- Features him discussing what learning to read has meant for him, such as enjoying reading the newspaper and running a reading group in his local library.
- May be used to introduce the topic in class and stimulate discussion around the featured story.