On Monday 20th April, learn how to unlock young people’s love of literature

“I didn’t do reading before, but it’s fun and I love it now. Reading aloud is better than in your head. It’s like you’re on an adventure, you can understand more aloud.” –
Looked-after child, reading in a one-to-one session
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On Monday 20th April from 2-5pm, discover how you can inspire a love of words and reading in young people, from tiny tots to teens!

Join Up for Arts, championing arts participation and volunteering in Merseyside, and The Reader Organisation, pioneering an exciting new way to engage with literature through shared reading groups across the UK.

Highlights will include:

  • An extract from David Almond’s award-winning book Skellig, read by BBC Radio Merseyside’s very own Roger Phillips
  • Top 10 Tips for reading with children and a Q&A, brought to you by practitioners from The Reader Organisation
  • An opportunity to see shared reading in action, in The Reader Organisation’s end-of-talk taster sessions
  • Information about the new Liverpool Families project, and how you can get involved in reading with disadvantaged children across the city.
Book your place

Spaces are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment. Contact the BBC Radio Merseyside ‘A’ Team on 0151 794 0984 to book a place, or to leave your details to find out more.

Venue address
BBC Radio Merseyside
Liverpool One
31 College Lane
Liverpool, Merseyside L1 3DS

Featured Poem: The Foolish Fir-Tree by Henry Van Dyke

As December is upon us it seems fitting for this week’s featured poem to have a festive flavour. With Christmas Day hurtling towards us at lightning bolt speed, the following rhyme from Henry Van Dyke may inspire those who are yet to assemble their Christmas tree and adorn its branches to do so. This fir-tree soon discovers that decoration choice is of utmost importance.

The Foolish Fir-Tree

A LITTLE fir grew in the midst of the wood
Contented and happy, as young trees should.
His body was straight and his boughs were clean;
And summer and winter the bountiful sheen
Of his needles bedecked him, from top to root,
In a beautiful, all-the-year, evergreen suit.

But a trouble came into his heart one day,
When he saw that the other trees were gay
In the wonderful raiment that summer weaves
Of manifold shapes and kinds of leaves:
He looked at his needles so stiff and small,
And thought that his dress was the poorest of all.
Then jealousy clouded the little tree’s mind,
And he said to himself, “It was not very kind
“To give such an ugly old dress to a tree!
“If the fays of the forest would only ask me,
“I’d tell them how I should like to be dressed,—
“In a garment of gold, to bedazzle the rest!”
So he fell asleep, but his dreams were bad.
When he woke in the morning, his heart was glad;
For every leaf that his boughs could hold
Was made of the brightest beaten gold.
I tell you, children, the tree was proud;
He was something above the common crowd;
And he tinkled his leaves, as if he would say
To a pedlar who happened to pass that way,
“Just look at me! don’t you think I am fine?
“And wouldn’t you like such a dress as mine?”
“Oh, yes!” said the man, “and I really guess
I must fill my pack with your beautiful dress.”
So he picked the golden leaves with care,
And left the little tree shivering there.

“Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?”
The fir-tree said, “I forgot that thieves
“Would be sure to rob me in passing by.
“If the fairies would give me another try,
“I’d wish for something that cost much less,
“And be satisfied with glass for my dress!”
Then he fell asleep; and, just as before,
The fairies granted his wish once more.
When the night was gone, and the sun rose clear,
The tree was a crystal chandelier;
And it seemed, as he stood in the morning light,
That his branches were covered with jewels bright.
“Aha!” said the tree. “This is something great!”
And he held himself up, very proud and straight;
But a rude young wind through the forest dashed,
In a reckless temper, and quickly smashed
The delicate leaves. With a clashing sound
They broke into pieces and fell on the ground,
Like a silvery, shimmering shower of hail,
And the tree stood naked and bare to the gale.

Then his heart was sad; and he cried, “Alas
“For my beautiful leaves of shining glass!
“Perhaps I have made another mistake
“In choosing a dress so easy to break.
“If the fairies only would hear me again
“I’d ask them for something both pretty and plain:
“It wouldn’t cost much to grant my request,—
“In leaves of green lettuce I’d like to be dressed!”
By this time the fairies were laughing, I know;
But they gave him his wish in a second; and so
With leaves of green lettuce, all tender and sweet,
The tree was arrayed, from his head to his feet.
“I knew it!” he cried, “I was sure I could find
“The sort of a suit that would be to my mind.
“There’s none of the trees has a prettier dress,
“And none as attractive as I am, I guess.”
But a goat, who was taking an afternoon walk,
By chance overheard the fir-tree’s talk.
So he came up close for a nearer view;—
“My salad!” he bleated, “I think so too!
“You’re the most attractive kind of a tree,
“And I want your leaves for my five-o’clock tea.”
So he ate them all without saying grace,
And walked away with a grin on his face;
While the little tree stood in the twilight dim,
With never a leaf on a single limb.

Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak—
He was so ashamed that he could not speak.
He knew at last that he had been a fool,
To think of breaking the forest rule,
And choosing a dress himself to please,
Because he envied the other trees.
But it couldn’t be helped, it was now too late,
He must make up his mind to a leafless fate!
So he let himself sink in a slumber deep,
But he moaned and he tossed in his troubled sleep,
Till the morning touched him with joyful beam,
And he woke to find it was all a dream.
For there in his evergreen dress he stood,
A pointed fir in the midst of the wood!
His branches were sweet with the balsam smell,
His needles were green when the white snow fell.
And always contented and happy was he,—
The very best kind of a Christmas tree.

Henry Van Dyke

City of Readers launch unique Give us 5 for reading video

On Wednesday afternoon people from across the City descended on Blackburne House for the debut screening of the Give us 5 video. Produced by Jack-All Productions, the awe-inspiring film captures a glimpse of the power of reading for pleasure beautifully.

Over the past few weeks organisations and individuals have united with City of Readers to dedicate their time to the project; Blackburne House generously donated the venue and Brian Patten kindly allowed his poem to be read, as well as those who offered their time to be featured in the video.

Prior to the showing of the video, Director of City of Readers and our Founder and Director, Dr Jane Davis emphasised the importance of the work City of Readers do in their aim to make Liverpool the foremost reading city in the UK. Laura Lewis, one of our Schools Coordinators also shared heartwarming anecdotes detailing the impact reading has had on some of the children City of Readers work with.

Last term City of Readers reached 579 school children in 17 schools and conducted 372 reading sessions. In one school staff saw 75% of pupils with poor attendance improving attendance, with 88% of pupils more willing to independently choose to read. Another school said that 79% of reading scores had gone up over the Summer, with 17% staying the same. This is fantastic as most reading scores plummet when children are away from school.

The launch was an opportunity for people to learn about this worthy project, and to discover how they can get involved. City of Readers are delighted with the passion, dedication and enthusiasm shown by attendees to the launch. Amongst those who attended were representatives from Mersey Travel, Waterstones and Baltic Creative who all generously pledged to Give City of Readers 5 for reading.

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Esteemed author Frank Cottrell Boyce has donated 5000 words to City of Readers. The final chapter will be read live at the forthcoming Penny Readings in December.

City of Readers urge everyone across Liverpool to get involved and Give us 5. So how can you pledge? Do you have 5 books that have been untouched in months? You could donate them to the City of Readers project. Or can you spare 5 minutes of your day and read to a loved one? For more ideas and details on how you can Give us 5, visit the City of Readers website here.

You can watch the Give us 5 by following this link or scrolling down to our blog post ‘Give City of Readers 5 and some exciting news at Calderstones’.

Issue 55 of The Reader is now available to purchase

It’s the perfect time to curl up with this brand new issue of The Reader as those cold, dark evenings draw in. In issue 55 which is packed with literary goodness, our editor Phil Davis talks to actress Maxine Peake about risk taking and writing and you will find a fascinating essay from the wonderful Howard Jacobson on Jane Austen. We hope you will also enjoy the excellent selection of new and old literature in this issue including new fiction from llana Baram and a particularly fine collection of poetry from Anna Woodford, Tony Cosier, David Constantine and Paul Connolly.

Please note we are currently having some technical issues with our website, so to order your copy, or subscribe to The Reader please email magazine@thereader.org.uk

We will inform you on here when the website is fixed.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Featured Poem: The Self-Unseeing by Thomas Hardy

We read this poem in a communications team meeting a few weeks ago and found it a captivating one to explore, and have since found it to be a poem that really stays with you after reading. Written by Victorian writer Thomas Hardy –  known for his dark, gothic style – we hope you find today’s featured poem an interesting read.

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!

Thomas Hardy

Tickets are selling fast for SENTogether’s Annual Social Finance Conference, hosted and sponsored by The Reader Organisation

We are delighted to be hosting SENTogether’s Annual Social Finance Conference – which is set to be a fantastic day – at Calderstones Mansion House.

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On 12th September 2014, Social Enterprise Network will  turn the spotlight on social finance with this year’s much-anticipated conference: ‘Capital with a Conscience: A Better Solution?’ Social businesses, funders, social banks, and public and private enterprises keen to work ethically are invited to bring their best ideas to this meeting of minds.

SEN Social Finance Conference smaller

The agenda will cover everything from the future of funding in the current economic climate, to practical advice for first-timers on securing social finance, as well as exploring the burgeoning relationship between social finance and the public sector.

Speakers will include Robbie Davison of Can Cook, and Helen Heap of Seebohm Hill, who both have progressive ideas around what social lenders should really be doing. Robbie is the Director of Can Cook, a social enterprise which tackles food poverty, and he has first-hand experience of receiving social finance. He also authored a ground-breaking paper on which the first conference was based, calling for a radical re-structuring of the relationship between investors and recipients. Helen is an experienced social investment analyst, and with Robbie, has put forward the new ’Builder Capital’ model, with a view to providing community-based social enterprises with the long-term support they need.

Confirmed organisations include Key Fund, who have provided finance to over 2000 organisations and are a social enterprise themselves, and Big Issue Invest, who have recently developed new funds for the sector. More are still to be announced.

Lunch, refreshments and challenging ideas are all included in the price of your £10 ticket. If you would like to take a stall in the marketplace, please email debbie.felton@sen.org.uk. To book tickets, click this link or search Eventbrite for ‘Capital with a Conscience: A Better Solution?’ For more information, email info@sen.org.uk or call 0151 237 2664.

This event is officially sponsored by SENTogether, The Reader Organisation and Key Fund.

At The Reader Organisation we are very excited to be a part of this day.

Featured Poem: Escape at Bedtime by Robert Louis Stevenson

After a fabulous few days hosting our Children’s Literature Festival -The Secret Garden of Stories – it feels fitting to continue enjoying the wonders of  Children’s Literature  in this week;s Featured Poem. For this reason, we have chosen one of our favourite Children’s poems, Escape at Bedtime by R.L. Stevenson. We hope you enjoy!

Escape at Bedtime:

The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
Through the blinds and the windows and bars;
And high overhead and all moving about,
There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne’er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon me,
And that glittered and winked in the dark.

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shown in the sky, and the pail by the wall
Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
And the stars going round in my head.

 

by Robert Louis Stevenson

What is the secret of The Menlove Treasure?

Online serial (2)

The Reader Organisation is excited to announce the beginning of a very special story…

As part of Liverpool City of Readers ‘Give Us 5’ campaign, award-winning author Frank Cottrell-Boyce is donating 5000 words in the form of a totally free online serial story.

Taking inspiration from authors such as Charles Dickens who released their stories a chapter at a time, Frank is releasing his story bit-by-bit.

Chapter One is out today and tells us about Rylan, a young boy keeping a secret from the world, an eccentric old woman pretending to be his nan and the mysterious Park Mansion House where he is staying.

Each month a new chapter will appear online, cumulating in the last chapter being read aloud in December as part of the Penny Readings.

You can follow the adventures as they unfold online at: http://cityofreaders.org/online-serial/

You can also get involved yourself by tagging your Instagram pictures and videos, inspired by the story, to #MLTreasure where they will be posted on the City of Readers website.

Why is Rylan keeping a secret?  What tales will the old Mansion reveal?

And what is The Menlove Treasure?

Click the link to start the adventure. Chapter One – http://cityofreaders.org/online-serial/

‘Sigh no more’… Globe on Tour is returning to Calderstones Mansion House!

‘Wow! Now THAT is life!’… These were the words of an audience member who attended last year’s sell-out performance of King Lear by The Globe on Tour, when the garden theatre at Calderstones Mansion House was unveiled for the first time in thirty years.

After such a wonderful success, we are overjoyed at The Reader Organisation to announce that The Globe are returning to Calderstones this June, with one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, packed with memorable lines, and – I think – two of Shakespeare’s wittiest characters.

Much Ado tells the tale of two love stories, one – between Hero and Claudio – of romance, open declarations of love, and drama; the other – between Beatrice and Benedick – a battle of sharp-wit, denial and passion from the play’s two favourite comedic characters.

Played previously by stars such as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant, Beatrice and Benedict are renowned for their sharp tongue, and adorable denial of love. With these characters, Shakespeare has undoubtedly inspired many famous literary couples such as Austen’s well-known couple, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, Much Ado About Nothing comes with a host of lines and phrases, which remain present in our everyday lives… for example, the popular track Sigh no more, by Mumford and Sons, features a number of lines from Much Ado About Nothing.

Maintaining their prestigious reputation, The Globe on Tour wowed audiences last year with King Lear,

‘@The_Globe #Lear is exactly as touring Shakespeare should be. Snappy, high energy and inventive’.

With this in mind, we’re looking forward to a knock-out performance of Much Ado About Nothing and can’t wait to see what this year’s Benedick and Beatrice, played by Simon Bubb and Emma Pallant, have in store for us. And to top it all off, Calderstones Mansion House garden theatre is a truly perfect venue, as highlighted by an audience member last year, ‘The theatre garden really made it seem very personal.’

Much Ado  A3  SuperBlank


Performance Dates and Times:

Thursday 12th June, 7:30pm
Friday 13th June, 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Saturday 14th June, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


Ticket information:
Tickets are now on sale!

Price of tickets: £20

To purchase your tickets online, please visit: Shakespeare’s Globe website. There is a transaction fee of £2.50 for online bookings.

Please contact The Globe’s Box Office on 020 7401 9919 if you want to book for a Group; if you require access bookings; if you have children U18 or would like to use Theatre Tokens.
N.B. Concessions do not apply to Senior citizens for theatre performances. Discounts cannot be applied retrospectively.

Tickets will sell out, so book yours now to make sure you don’t miss out!

Shared reading group members and volunteers

The Reader Organisation has a limited number of £15 discounted tickets for shared reading group members and volunteers which can be obtained through your group leaders.

If you have any questions, please contact Abi: abigailleader@thereader.org.uk

Join the conversation for this upcoming tour on Twitter by using the hashtag #MuchAdo