Keep Calm and Read On

The Reader Organisation recently celebrated the second year of one of our most successful partnerships, our shared reading project with Forum Housing Association in Birkenhead.

Rhiannon, Bobby and Lord MayorForum provides accommodation and support for 16-25 year olds in housing need and our Reader-in-Residence, Amanda Boston, reads stories and poems aloud with young parents and their babies, as well as singing songs and reading poems with the young people themselves. 6 Forum staff members have completed our Read to Lead training course and run their own shared reading sessions for young people with vulnerable mental health.

The project has engaged over 100 young people in reading great literature aloud together over the last two years. Young parents have been reading with their children alongside other residents and staff, ensuring the best start in life for their babies as well as improving their own self-confidence and contributing to a vibrant reading community.

Responses to the reading groups have been overwhelmingly positive for the young people themselves and their relationships with their children:

“I feel as though I have gained more confidence. At first I wouldn’t read out loud, it felt good, because I was encouraged to, but wasn’t forced to. I feel my self esteem has grown as well, I didn’t feel I was good enough to read aloud, I struggled inside myself to do it, but just started to anyway. When I first came I thought I was too dumb to read, I realised other people felt as I did, and Bev sometimes struggled as well, it made me realise I was not dumb, and could do it, it got better as we all got to know each other more.”

“I have started reading more frequently to my daughter. We now read every night together. It’s a special time – I like seeing her excitement and seeing her enjoy herself. It’s bonding time for us both.”

“I now feel more able to control my anger. Being in the reading group slows me down and calms me down”

Everyone joins in with Twinkle Twinkle
Everyone joins in with Twinkle Twinkle

The celebration event, Keep Calm and Read On, featured an overview of the past year, readings from the young people, and a group singalong to

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, complete with actions. The Lord Mayor of Wirral and the High Sheriff of

Merseyside shared their own memories of childhood reading, before presenting certificates of achievement.

Chris Allen, Chief Executive of Forum, hosted the event:

“It was a special time with so many coming together to celebrate reading aloud. The benefit of this initiative was clear for all to see with young people, the High Sheriff and Mayor all reading aloud. It was a fun time and seeing young people receive their certificates was inspiring. We hope to run this programme for many years, it truly has remarkable benefits”

One young mother, holding her son, read the poem ‘Song for a Young Mother’ by EJ Scovell, and explained that she had previously been ‘wild’, but the birth of her child transformed her life. She strongly identified with the final lines:

So you learn from my arm
You have substance and a house
So I learn from your birth
That I am not vague and wild
But as solid as my child
And as constant as the earth

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