Enjoying a ‘Book at Breakfast’ and more at Calderstones Mansion House

From Susie Crampton, Calderstones Intern

It’s The Reader Organisation’s mission to build a reading revolution and here at Calderstones Mansion House the exciting development of an International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing is underway! This centre will have shared reading at its heart and there are already four weekly groups running. I’ve been a member of the Monday ‘Book at Breakfast’ group, which is run by the lovely Ellen, since it began in May. Now five months in it feels comfortably established and certainly gets my week off to a great start. I really enjoy sitting around a table, surrounded by friendly, familiar faces, with a cuppa in one hand and a good story or poem in the other. There’s always something tasty to eat too and this week was no exception; in fact as one member exclaimed, Ellen had gone above and beyond and baked us a yummy carrot cake.

She also chose a fantastic short story, The Door by Helen Simpson, for us to read together. As we paused at various points to talk about what we had just read, our conversation ranged from bereavement and grief, in particular the death of a partner or spouse, to the practicalities of organising a new back door after a break-in. As unfortunate coincidence would have it, one of the group members had been going through exactly this herself and had arrived a bit late that morning, following a conversation with her alarm fitter. It was certainly a story that engaged us all and as it turned out, one of particular relevance and resonance for several members of the group.

We then rounded off the group by reading the poem, Wind by Ted Hughes. The first reading of the poem was met with baffled expressions around the table and everyone was keen for it to be read aloud a second time. After this second reading we all set about making sense of what the poet was getting at and once again our discussion covered the personal as well as the practical. One of our members is an optician and puzzled over the technicalities of the line ‘Flexing like the lens of a mad eye’. We also talked a lot about the imagery used and although none of us felt we had experienced a storm like it, we could really appreciate lines like,

‘The wind flung a magpie away and a black-

Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly.’

To end the session we read the poem through one more time, all appreciating and enjoying it far more than on our initial encounter.

reading2 c Mark Loudon

For me shared reading is thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying and I would urge everyone to give it a try. Details of the groups at Calderstones are below:

  • Book at Breakfast, Mondays, 10-11.30am
  • Time for Me, Wednesdays, 6-7.30pm
  • Teddy Bear’s Picnic (for children under 5s, parents and carers), Thursdays, 1.30-2.30pm
  • Caldies Creatives (for young people aged 7-12), Saturdays, 10-11.30am (suggested donation £2)

These groups are free to attend and are open to everyone. Come along and share the reading experience with tea, biscuits, and good company!

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