Reading for pleasure

Sue's story: Reading recipes

Sue's inspiring story.

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Click on the picture above to hear Sue Chapman's inspiring story of learning to read.



My name is Sue Chapman and I'm from Reading, in Berkshire.

As a child, I couldn't read and write. I was illiterate. It's something that absolutely devastates your life, if you can't read. I was so ashamed of it, I just wouldn’t tell anybody.

I had cancer, breast cancer, and it was such a shock to me. They gave me pieces of paper, leaflets, and I used to take them but knowing I couldn't read about it. And I was sitting here, all depressed, one day, and a lady came along, sent from the doctor, and said, "Would you like to have a little read?" And I said, "No, I can't." And that was the first time I spoke to anybody about it.

It's just unbelievable, the relief to say you cannot read after all those years of keeping it to yourself. She said, "That's no problem." And she said, "How about if we do something about it?"

I thought, "Somebody's given me a second chance here. I've survived cancer, so I want to try and do something with my life."

I am now in a class. It's just amazing how lovely it is, and I look forward to it so much. I've never been to a library before, but just recently I've been, and I think it's wonderful. My passion for cooking is actually sitting here, reading a recipe and picking out what I would like to cook.

Let me see if I've got the ingredients. [Reading from her recipe book] "It's cod, haddock, cup of milk..."

I never knew that there were so many different recipes. I have lost two stone since I've been cooking. My doctor's very pleased because my cholesterol is down.

To be able to read cookbooks now has just saved my life. It's such a wonderful thing to be able to read.

Quick tips for tutors

  • Short film featuring Sue Chapman's inspring true story of learning to read at 63 years old.
  • She discusses what learning to read has meant for her including her love of cooking and reading recipe books.
  • May be used to introduce the topic in class and stimulate discussion around the featured story.