Calling London!

If you would like to learn how to run shared reading groups, inspired by Get Into Reading, this is your last chance to apply for the open Read to Lead training course in London’s Mayfair Library. The course will be held over five days in January & February 2011, and will give you all the skills, confidence and experience to set up and run your own groups and help spread the Reading Revolution.

Totally unlike any other professional course. It has worked at a much more profound level.

Read to Lead trainee

The five sessions will be on these dates:

  • Monday, 10th January
  • Monday, 17th January
  • Monday, 24th January
  • Monday, 31st January
  • Monday 7th February

The closing date is next Monday, 6th December. If you would like to apply, please contact Mark Till, Training Administrator, for an application form on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.

Something Wicked This Way Comes…

Lunch Macabre...

“Let there be a spice of terror,” wrote John Dickson Carr, “of dark skies and evil things.”

Well, at today’s Friday Lunch we certainly tried our best – or should that be worst? The jack-o’-lantern grinned its fiery grin; spiders crawled o’er the table; witch’s blood (grapefruit smoothie) was greedily lapped up; the skeleton in our closet was hung up for all to see; we told ghost stories and read creepy poems (including ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ by Robert Browning)…

Good Chris, Bad Chris...

Then there came a hollow knock at the door (which creaked open in a very sinister manner) and a mysterious visitor entered. Dracula? Dr Frankenstein? The Prince of Darkness Himself? Nope – it was Colin Gray from Hereford, with his wife Kathy and son Tom. Colin, far from being an axe-wielding maniac or slavering member of the un-dead, is one of our trained facilitators who has recently started a reading group at the Kindle Centre in Hereford. Well done, Colin – we wish you great success with it.

Thanks to Vicky Clarke and Niall Gibney for the food and decorations!

A Little, Aloud Masterclass: Wednesday 27th October 2010

A Little, Aloud
Masterclass with Angela Macmillan and Katie Clark
Wednesday 27th October 2010
19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 7ZG
10.30am – 3.00pm

Come along to this Masterclass and spend time reading in the company of Angela Macmillan, editor of our new anthology A Little, Aloud, a selection of the very best prose and poetry especially chosen for reading aloud, published by Chatto & Windus.

Find out how the book came about, why reading aloud is so vital, and take part in a special shared reading session.

Through our Get Into Reading (GIR) project, we are discovering that reading aloud brings remarkable health and happiness benefits: it stimulates thought and memory, encourages the sharing of ideas and feelings, hopes and fears – enriching our lives and minds. Katie Clark, TRO’s Dementia and Elderly Care Project Manager, will share her experiences of reading aloud with elderly people and those suffering from dementia, and explain how you can use A Little, Aloud to make a big difference to people’s lives.

The cost of the day is £40, which includes lunch, refreshments and a free copy of A Little, Aloud. Please contact us with any special dietary requirements.

For more information, and to book your place, please contact Mark Till, Training Programme Assistant, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.

London Calling: Join the Reading Revolution!

 
The Reader Organisation is pleased to announce that applications are now being taken for a new Read to Lead Training course, to be held in Mayfair Library, London, in January 2011. Over the course of five day long workshops, running once a week throughout January, this training course will allow you to develop the necessary skills and understanding to run your own shared reading project, inspired by our pioneering social outreach project Get Into Reading, and to bring the power of great books to the lives of people who most need them.
 

This is the first time I have ever felt so enthused after a training course, with a real sense that I have learnt something which can make a difference.

Read to Lead trainee
 
The first Read to Lead Training course of this nature, we are encouraging applications from people from all professional and social backgrounds: a love of books, a belief in the social value of reading, and a passion to share this vision are what we look for in trainees.
 
For more information, please download an information leaflet or contact Penny Markell, Project Manager of Get Into Reading London on pennymarkell@thereader.org.uk

Application forms can be downloaded here. All applications must be received by Monday 6th December.

Join The Reading Revolution!

If you’re looking for ways to get involved with The Reader Organisation and Get Into Reading, or you just want to find out more, here is what we have coming up in the next few months….

The Reader Organisation Showcases
FREE TO ATTEND

Showcases are free, two-hour events in which you can meet The Reader Organisation face to face and gain a deeper understanding of what we do, how we do it, and, crucially, how you can get involved. It is your first step towards becoming a part of the Reading Revolution! More information can be found here. The next Showcases will be held on the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday 20th October 2010, 2pm-4pm: London
  • Monday 25th October 2010, 2pm – 4pm: Liverpool
  • Monday 15th November 2010, 2pm – 4pm: Birmingham 
  • Monday 29th November 2010, 2pm-4pm: London

A Little, Aloud: Masterclass with Angela Macmillan and Katie Clark
Wednesday 27th October 2010, 10.30am – 3.00pm, Liverpool
£40 including lunch, refreshments and a free copy of A Little, Aloud

Come along to this Masterclass and spend time reading in the company of Angela Macmillan, editor of our new anthology A Little, Aloud. After lunch, Katie Clark, TRO’s Dementia and Elderly Care Project Manager, will share her experiences of reading aloud with elderly people and those suffering from dementia, and explain how you can use A Little, Aloud to make a big difference to people’s lives.

Read to Lead Workshop
10th November 2010, Carlisle
£150 including lunch and refreshments

We’re coming to Carlisle on Wednesday 10th November to deliver a one-day Read to Lead Workshop. So, if you live or work in the area, this is your chance to experience Get Into Reading first-hand and link-up with others who want to get involved with our work.

Read to Lead Residential
21st – 26th November 2010, Burton Manor
£1,000 per trainee (also one concessionary place of £100)

Our Read to Lead Residential Training gives you all of the skills, inspiration and experience necessary to run shared reading groups based on our Get Into Reading model. Over a fun but intensive five days at the beautiful Burton Manor in Cheshire, we will give you the insider view on what makes Get Into Reading work.

Read to Lead Training: London
January & February 2011
£800 per trainee (also one concessionary place of £100)

Sign up to this non-residential version of our Read to Lead Training course in London and bring the power of great books to the lives of people who most need them. Over five day-long sessions, scheduled across five consecutive weeks, we will give you all the skills, inspiration and experience necessary to run your own groups based on Get Into Reading.

For more information about any of these events and courses, and how to book your place, please contact Mark Till, Training Officer, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.

Forget the Fringe: TRO is coming to Edinburgh!

Want to join the Reading Revolution? This is the place to start:

Read to Lead Workshop
Thursday 14th October 2010
Central Library
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh
EH1 1EG
10am – 4pm

Come along to this Read to Lead Workshop, hosted by Edinburgh Libraries, and discover how you can bring the power of great books to those who need it most.

This workshop is open to people from all professional and social backgrounds: a love of books, a belief in the social value of reading, and a passion to share this vision are our main criteria.

The outcomes of this Read to Lead Workshop are as follows:

  • To develop your understanding of the theory and practice of Get Into Reading;
  • To give you a chance to experience shared reading aloud as part of a GIR group;
  • To introduce you to specialised shared reading and group facilitation techniques;
  • To build your local contact base of people who are interested in GIR;
  • To give you the opportunity to discuss strategies for developing groups in your area;
  • To inform you about full Read to Lead Training courses and the University of Liverpool’s ‘Reading in Practice’ MA.

The cost of the course is £150 including lunch and refreshments. We offer one ‘no fee’ place on each course for individuals who cannot pay. Places on each workshop are limited to twelve, to preserve the intimate feel of the groups and to allow everyone a chance to speak and be heard.

To book your place, please fill in a booking form which can be downloaded from our website, or contact Mark Till, Training Programme Assistant on 0151 794 2286 or marktill@thereader.org.uk.

TRO is coming to Southampton…

We’re coming to Southampton on Wednesday 8th September to deliver a Read to Lead Workshop. So, if you live or work in the area, this is your chance to experience Get Into Reading (GIR) first-hand and link-up with others who want to get involved with our work. Or if you know anyone nearby – people working in care homes, libraries, community centres, prisons, the NHS, with young people – please pass the information on to them and help us spread the word about the power of shared reading.

I feel very energised and motivated to take my involvement further in Get Into Reading.

Read to Lead Workshop attendee, Nottingham

The Read to Lead Workshop will

  • Develop your understanding of the theory and practice of Get Into Reading;
  • Give you a chance to experience shared reading aloud as part of a GIR group;
  • Introduce you to specialised shared reading and group facilitation techniques;
  • Build your local contact base of people who are interested in GIR;
  • Give you the opportunity to discuss strategies for developing groups in your area;
  • Inform you about full Read to Lead Training courses and the University of Liverpool’s ‘Reading in Practice’ MA.

The cost of the course is £150 including lunch and refreshments. The Reader Organisation offers one ‘no fee’ place on each course for individuals who cannot pay. Places on each Workshop are limited to twelve, to preserve the intimate feel of the groups and to allow everyone a chance to speak and be heard.

To book your place, please fill in a booking form which can be downloaded from our website, or contact Mark Till, Training Programme Assistant, on 0151 794 2286 or marktill@thereader.org.uk.

Read to Lead Training, 12th – 17th September, at Burton Manor

Read to Lead Residential Training
12th – 17th September 2010
Burton Manor, Cheshire

This course has been brilliant – other professional courses pale in comparison. This is the first time I have ever felt so enthused after a training course, with a real sense that I have learnt something which can make a difference.

 Come and spend five fun but intensive days at the beautiful Burton Manor in Cheshire, and learn how to run shared reading groups based on our Get Into Reading model. We will give you the insider view on what makes Get Into Reading work – reading aloud, choosing materials, facilitating a session, social inclusion – as well as the practical side of running a shared reading group. Our project workers and local group members will put you through a vigorous reading workout, help you identify areas of practice to work on, and give you the opportunity to lead reading groups in a companionable and supportive environment. Put simply, the course will give you all the understanding, experience and inspiration necessary to run your own project.

This course is open to people from all professional and social backgrounds: a love of books, a belief in the social value of reading, and a passion to share this vision are what we look for in trainees. There are 20 residential places on each course. Entry is via application form, which you can download from our website. The course costs £1,000 which includes tuition, accommodation and all meals. We offer one concessionary place at a cost of £100. This is strictly reserved for people in difficult circumstances who would struggle to pay. Please see application form for further details.

For more information, or to book your place, please contact Mark Till, Training Programme Assistant, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.

In Poets’ Corner I Sat Down and… Didn’t Feel Much, Actually

In London last Saturday I went to visit Westminster Abbey, which is so beautiful and interesting and filled with so much history – so many famous old bones – it became rather surreal and difficult to take in. This feeling of surreality wasn’t helped by the fact that I, along with everyone else who opted for the much-needed audio description headsets, was guided around by the voice of actor Jeremy Irons. It’s magnificent, anyway, outside and in: a great experience. I was slightly sorry for William Caxton and John Reith, though, who in their different times and ways have done more than anyone to spread culture in Britain, and whose stone wall-plaques were outside in a not-very-sweet-smelling courtyard where people queued for the toilet. “Hello. I’m Jeremy Irons. You are now standing in the queue for the toilet…”

So – to the point. There is a famous section of the Abbey called Poets’ Corner, which began as the resting place of Geoffrey Chaucer (not then best known for his literary achievements, Jeremy informed me, but for being Clerk of Works for the Palace of Westminster) and has since become the traditional place for great authors, poets and playwrights to be buried or commemorated. It is crowded with stone floor-slabs, carved monuments, busts, and now, given the overcrowding, a memorial stained-glass window too. And what a party of ghosts! What a crowd! Shakespeare, Hardy, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, Tennyson, Auden, Austen, Lewis Carroll, the Brontes, Wordsworth, Ben Jonson… I could go on and on and on and on. Had I expected to feel moved, excited? I don’t know. I had expected to feel something. After all, for several years now, especially since joining The Reader Organisation, these people have been powerful influences in my life.  They have, despite being dead, changed the way I live. And here they all were. And yes, it was touching to stand above the gold letters ‘CHARLES DICKENS’ and to think that his bones – his actual bones from his actual body! – were just metres away from me. This wasn’t his wish apparently: he had wanted to be buried “in an inexpensive, unostentatious and strictly private manner”.

But on the whole I wasn’t moved. On the whole I felt very little. And as I sat down, looked around and ticked off more and more great names, I realised the cause of my dissatisfaction. Above and on either side of a statue of William Shakespeare, spaced symmetrically high up on the wall, were two stone tablets bearing the names “Keats” and “Shelley”. The meaninglessness of this suddenly became clear to me. Those stone tablets – somehow implying that Keats and Shelley were two of a kind, or basically the same – were nothing but names. Now this is not a complaint about Poets’ Corner specifically – or about memorials generally. I am just as much of a blue-plaque hunter as the next boring person. But sitting in Westminster Abbey I was reminded of a question asked at our New Beginnings Readers’ Day earlier this year: about whether we should do more to mark writers’ anniversaries. Well, it’s a perfectly reasonable question, but to me the fact that it is “200 years since the birth of Anthony Trollope” is just as meaningless as his stone floor-slab in Poets’ Corner. Neither tells you anything about why his name is worth remembering in the first place: what he wrote. Anniversary celebrations can be a very good way to promote the work, of course they can, but they can also be a very poor substitute for actual reading. Those few metres between Dickens and me were light-years compared with how near he is – and how alive he is – when I read him.

These lines occurred to me as well:

But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead,
The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
     The worth of that is that which it contains,
     And that is this, and this with thee remains.

Shakespeare says that when death, “that fell arrest”, takes away his body, his lover should be contented because his spirit lives on in the writing, “in this line”. There is something wonderful in thinking that a part of Shakespeare’s mind – the best part? – is preserved in his words and can be brought back to life through the simple act of reading. When we read “my body being dead” he is literally speaking to us from beyond the grave! This is an “interest” above and beyond the fixed terms of life. His description of the body as mere “dregs” is not a dismissal of bodily life – think how emphatically his plays are embodied, how grounded they are in the physicality of their characters – but rather an acknowledgement that, once dead, the body has nothing more to offer: the worth within him, his individual spirit, has gone into his words. “The better part of me” is very like this from John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies: a book, Ruskin says,

is written, not to multiply the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to perpetuate it. The author has something to say which he perceives to be true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows, no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he may; clearly at all events. In the sum of his life he finds this to be the thing, or group of things, manifest to him; – this, the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize. He would fain set it down forever; engrave it on rock if he could; saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew: this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.’ This is his ‘writing’: it is, in his small human way, and with whatever degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or scripture. That is a ‘Book’.

But if books aren’t read, they’re dead. And no number of anniversary celebrations and commemorative monuments to the writer are going to resuscitate “the worth”: that which it contains. It is not the body we are reverencing in Poets’ Corner – many of the authors and poets aren’t buried there, only commemorated – but it is the name, the reputation, rather than what they wrote. And, given that the name and reputation were based on what they wrote, we are in danger of forgetting why we are reverencing certain names at all.

In his workshop at that New Beginnings Readers’ Day, the poet and translator David Constantine presented several poems without revealing, at least till we had thoroughly discussed them, whose they were. Too often, what we think we know about a writer, and the time in which they wrote, gets in the way of our reading. This has been a guiding principle in Get Into Reading too: we don’t let context get in the way of the text. Because, in a very important way, it doesn’t matter who wrote ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’, or Bleak House, or Silas Marner, or ‘Tears, Idle Tears’. If you read the words Shakespeare wrote, if you feel them, discuss them, argue them, tweet or Facebook them, whisper them softly to yourself when you’re having a crap day – if you live them, basically – you are doing more justice to Shakespeare than a thousand memorials in Westminster Abbey.

The Time of Your Life: Masterclass with Brian Nellist and Jane Davis

The Time of Your Life: Masterclass with Brian Nellist and Jane Davis

Wednesday 18th August 2010
10.30am – 3.30pm
19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 7ZG
£30

 

Course Description

Come along to this Masterclass double-bill and spend time reading with two very special TRO Masters: Brian Nellist and Jane Davis!

In the morning, Brian Nellist looks at Wordsworth’s poem ‘Tintern Abbey’ and considers whether we can breathe new life into happy memories and re-live our best times.

And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills

(If you haven’t read with Brian before, you can get a taste for the experience here.)

Then after lunch, Jane Davis leads a session on Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters, a great modern parallel of Wordsworth’s thinking. This is the extraordinary true story of Stuart Shorter – thief, hostage-taker and street raconteur – told backwards in time: from the man he was when Alexander Masters met him to the ‘happy-go-lucky little boy’ of twelve. We recommend you read both before attending the day – in fact why not buy them from The Reader Online Bookshop? – but extracts from the book will be provided in the afternoon.

 

Booking and Fees

The cost of the day is £30 including lunch and refreshments. Please contact us with any special dietary requirements. To book your place, you need to fill in and return a booking form available from our website.

For more information, please contact Mark Till, Training Programme Assistant, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.