What was The Reader doing there?

In response to yesterday’s question:

Jane Davis was at the Conservative Party Conference to speak at a seminar which was launching the Citizens University, an idea developed by the Young Foundation as a novel way of providing citizens with the skills and confidence they need to help others. It’s something that we were really keen to get involved in, so Jane spoke at the seminar about how TRO would offer short training courses to enable people to read aloud with others in their community. Jane said:

The Citizen’s University has the potential to change the way we all live, person by person; we’re delighted to be involved.

We lose more than 91 million working days a year to poor mental health, at a cost of £77 billion and its rising. At the same time levels of literacy are falling.

Reading aloud together develops good mental health, increases literacy, builds supportive communities and helps discover meaning: in workplaces, hospitals, dementia care homes, schools.

Later on that day, PM David Cameron mentioned the Citizens University in his speech:

Your country needs you. And today I want to tell you about the part we’ve all got to play, and the spirit that will take us through. It’s the spirit I saw in a group of NHS maternity nurses in my constituency who told me they wanted to form a co-op to use their own ideas and their nous to help new parents. It’s the spirit you see just down the road in Balsall Heath, where local residents’ street patrols have turned a no-go area into a place where people can once again feel safe. It’s the spirit that just today, has seen some of our leading social organisations come together to set up a new Citizen University, to help give people the skills they need to play a bigger part in society. It’s the spirit of activism, dynamism, people taking the initiative, working together to get things done.

More on our involvement with the Citizens University as the project develops.

National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day and, although Lisa mentioned this on Monday, it seems only right to mark the day itself. Instead of giving something to you directly, however, I’m going to make you work a little bit harder and choose something for yourself: click here and take your pick of one of our featured poems from the last two years. Then make a cup of tea, pick up a chocolate biscuit, relax and read it aloud – to yourself, or someone you care for.

The rhyme and reason of reading to dementia patients

Following on from Claire’s post about TRO in The Times

There’s a piece in Society Guardian today about Katie Clark’s work in dementia care homes and the publication of our anthology, A Little, Aloud, which we hope to see in every care home in the UK very soon:

It’s really hard when family members have developed dementia. They can’t remember the people you’re talking about, or even what day it is. You want to go and visit people and have a nice time with them, but what do you talk about? The book is a wonderful resource for sharing something together.

Read it in full here.

If you work in or visit care homes or hospitals, please do buy a copy of A Little, Aloud: it will give you, and the person you care for, some very special moments.

A Little, Aloud: The London Launch

Yesterday afternoon Jane and I left sunny Liverpool to head down to (a rather grey) London and meet up with Angie for the launch of A Little, Aloud in Waterstone’s, Piccadilly. Worried that no-one would turn up due to the tube strikes (I have poor luck when it comes to strikes interrupting my plans) and if we would even get across London in time ourselves, we were overjoyed to see the room filling up with plenty of friendly faces and some unknown ones.

Hosted by Jane, the event was full of warmth and energy and we were joined by the endearing and amusing Richard Briers, the elegant Joanna Trollope and our chief patron, Blake Morrison, all of them doing readings from the book, all of them brilliantly: Blake read Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ and Gillian Clarke’s ‘Miracle on St. David’s Day’, Joanna Trollope read Saki’s ‘The Lumber Room’, and Richard Briers read ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Angie spoke movingly about the genesis of the book – reading aloud with groups in care homes – and then read Keats’ ‘A Thing of Beauty’, beautiful itself.

A Little, Aloud is out in the world now, and we’re all incredibly proud.

You can order your copy here.

Joanna, Jane, Richard, Blake and Angie
Richard Briers reads 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'
Angie talks about how the book came about


Thanks to A Little, Aloud, the word about reading aloud is spreading further and wider. Agebomb, a site published by Geraldine Bedel, is “an attempt to monitor the changing landscape brought about by population explosion” and, after hearing about the book, has visited one of our Get Into Reading groups and written about ‘The Joy of Reading Aloud’:

Until recently, though, it hadn’t occurred to me that reading aloud was a perfect pastime for older people. Listening to the written word in the company of others and discussing what you have heard is about as un-patronising an activity as you could find: democratic, shared, and exhilarating, allowing individuals to find meaning together, to make connections and uncover memories.

Read it in full.

The Reader Organisation Showcases

Want to know more about The Reader Organisation and Get Into Reading? Interested in running or commissioning shared reading group projects but not sure how to go about it? Need to know how Read to Lead Training can improve your services?

Well, now all of these questions can be answered at our new Showcase events:

Showcases are free, two-hour events in which you can meet The Reader Organisation face to face and find out the answers to these questions. Through a detailed presentation, beneficiary case stories and readings from key members of TRO staff you will 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!

The next Showcases will be held on the following dates and locations:

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

Showcases are free events but you must book your place in order to attend. Spaces are limited, so it is advised to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. To book your place, or to find out more, please contact Mark Till, Training Officer, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286

TRO shortlisted for Morgan Foundation Entrepreneur Award

It’s been a week of excitement here at The Reader Organisation and it’s not over yet:

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been shortlisted as part of the Morgan Foundation Entrepreneur Awards! We’ve been nominated in the Best Entrepreneurial Charity or Social Enterprise in Liverpool.

The awards were established in 2007 and are designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the North West and North Wales – whether in new businesses, young entrepreneurs, social enterprises or charities. More info here.

The ceremony will be held on 11th November, so we’ll let you know the outcome then – until then, wish us luck!

Angela Macmillan on Open Book

Hear Angela Macmillan, the Editor of A Little, Aloud (published today!) – and also one of the editors of The Reader magazine – talking with Mariella Frostrup and Joanna Trollope on Radio 4’s ‘Open Book’ this afternoon at 4pm about the pleasure and benefits of reading aloud (or if you can’t wait, you can listen to the show’s original broadcast from Sunday on iPlayer right now).

“Being read to is the beguiling beginning of learning to love reading – it opens the door to absolutely everything and anything we might want to do in life.”
Joanna Trollope