Book Break, our Get Into Reading groups in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, are celebrating their 4th birthday this month! Project Worker and group facilitator Megg Hewlett shares the secrets of their success:
It is four years since the first Book Break shared reading groups began in Kensington and Chelsea. Since then we’ve read with people in many settings including; libraries, hospitals, mental health services, schools, alcohol and drug services, community centres and workplaces.
Book Break is delivered by The Reader Organisation, an award winning social enterprise working to connect people with great literature and each other, in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea libraries.
We create places where personal responses to books are freely shared. Our projects allow us to reach a diverse range of people, readers and non readers, extending the individual experience of literature and building strong mutually supportive communities that read together.
“You need it, you just don’t know you need it.”
Groups are led by trained project workers and volunteers, meeting each week to read books and poems together in locations such as care homes, libraries, prisons, community centres, schools, hostels, refugee centres and workplaces. We read aloud, slowly, taking time over each text, allowing thoughts, connections and understanding to emerge.
“It’s not just about reading or getting to know the story. It’s about having our opinions about things as well.”
Members can choose to join in, or not, and at times the reading will stop to allow some talk about parts of the text, discussing what it might mean or reflecting on similar experiences of their own. The effects are subtle and profound.
“Sometimes you can see different people having different ideas. You take something one way and someone else might take it a different way, and it makes you think. You respect other people’s opinions.”
A relaxed, friendly atmosphere is created in each group. Over time, people build up a confidence that enables them to tell their own stories, as well as to forge close relationships with fellow readers.
For some readers, this prompts new aspirations, and the searching out of further learning and support that will help rebuild their lives. For others, their reading group is a lifeline, helping to keep them on a more even keel. For all, it is a regular lift each week.
“It sets me up for the week”
Interested? Why not come along to one of our Book Break groups – all are welcome.
- New Horizons (50+), Sloane Square SW3 2PF
- Chelsea Library, Kings Road SW3 5EZ
- Brompton Library SW5 0BS
- Kensal Group @ St Charles Wellbeing Centre W10 6DZ
- PCT Rooms 15 Chelsea Street/World’s End SW10 0JN
- Book Break @ St Charles Wellbeing Centre W10 6DZ
- Latymer Centre 116 Bramley Road W10 6SU
- Chelsea Library Kings Road SW3 5EZ
This blog was originally posted on the RKBC Libraries blog.