There’s just one week to go until we head to the British Library Conference Centre in London for Better with a Book, The Reader Organisation’s National Conference 2014. Delegates from across the UK will be joining us for the day to explore the relationship between literature, mental health, education, increased social engagement, enhanced emotional development and improved quality of life, and it’s promising to be the most enriching Conference to date with a wonderful line-up of guest speakers on the bill.
Better with a Book will be examining how the practice of shared reading makes people from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds feel fundamentally better – from young people reading for pleasure in schools to literature being a way in to people within a variety of secure settings. What is it about reading, and specifically reading aloud with other people, that creates such positive impacts upon our lives?
The day will begin with an introduction by TRO Founder and Director Jane Davis, leading on to a panel discussion with Baroness Estelle Morris and Dr Alice Sullivan. Amongst them they will be unravelling the relationship between reading, emotional wellbeing and educational attainment, following findings of a study by the Institute of Education – of which Dr Sullivan was a co-author – which found that children who read for pleasure do significantly better at school in a range of subjects, including maths as well as spelling and vocabulary.
Also in the morning there’ll be the chance to Meet Our Readers as we talk to four of our regular shared reading group members from London and elsewhere around the country about how their lives have been improved by joining a group in a hospital or the community. They’ll be telling us more about their personal experiences of shared reading and the varied impacts literature has had upon them.
After lunch, there will be four Breakout sessions available to attend, including a discussion of how shared reading is working practically in Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs), a panel of commissioners who will talk about what working with The Reader Organisation has brought to them and an examination of the latest ongoing research into the cultural value of shared reading by the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems at University of Liverpool.
Reading in secure environments is a significant area of our work, and Lord Alan Howarth will be chairing a discussion between Nick Benefield, previous Joint Head of the NHS and National Offender Management Service Offender Personality Disorder Implementation Programme, and Megg Hewlett, Reader-in–Residence at West London Mental Health Trust, about shared reading as a therapeutic intervention in secure environments.
Rounding off the day, Jane will be in discussion with writer, author, broadcaster and former President of MIND Lord Melvyn Bragg who will talk about his life as a reader and his novel Grace and Mary, which is based on his experiences of living with a relative with dementia.
All this as well as a chance to experience shared reading firsthand in some special sessions – it’s going to be a truly stimulating day enjoying great literature and the positive effects it can bring.
There are still a last few places available to join us for Better with a Book – all the information on how to book can be found on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/events/conference
We look forward to seeing you in London!