Last week The Reader Organisation hosted a very special event indeed at the Liverpool head offices. On Wednesday afternoon, the old school hall at The Friary Centre was transformed into a party room as we welcomed young people, carers, siblings and staff to the ‘A Little, Aloud for Children Party’!
The party celebrated the recent release of our anthology of poetry and prose for young readers, and the guests of honour were the children and youngsters that TRO project workers read with one-to-one every week. The creation of this newest book was inspired by the many wonderful stories and experiences that have come out of the charity’s work with young people, and the party on Wednesday was the perfect way to say a huge ‘thank you’ to these reading stars.
Every child that we read with received a free copy of the new anthology, signed and personalized by Angie. On top of this, the youngsters at the party were treated to an afternoon packed-full with food, games, readings and a lot of laughter. Along with project workers from TRO, Angie kick-started the event with a series of very dramatic and sometimes hilarious readings of poems from the book. Angie’s spooky narration of ‘In The Stump of the Old Tree’ got children squirming in their seats, and saying ‘eeewwww’, whilst a performance of Gareth Owens’ ‘Conversation Piece’ had the audience in stitches.
All of the games and activities the children took part in during the party were based around the book, too. We took inspiration from Angie’s brilliant ‘themed’ pairings of prose and poetry, using her categories ‘Monsters of the Deep’ and ‘Angels’ for craft activities. Neil Gaiman’s poem ‘Instructions’ provided the basis for a journey-making game, where the children had to find their way around some pretty hairy routes, and describe what happens along the way – one of the young people involved commented, ‘Guess who I meet at the end? My brother!’ Children were asked to be as imaginative as possible with the ‘Weird Words’ game, in which they used some of the best / strangest words from poems in the book to make their own poem or story.
In a lovely close to the event, one of the young people present read out the poem she had written during the afternoon, and books were presented to all the children there. In a final reading, one of our Young People’s Project Workers read-out Grace Nichols’ poem ‘Give Yourself a Hug’ from the book – a sentiment that we all acted-out, and which all of the children certainly deserved. None of the attendees went away empty-handed: to go along with their book, they all also took-away goody-bags filled with cakes, sweets, crisps and strawberries … and there was still food leftover! We all came away feeling very full and very content.