Get Into Reading at the START Centre

Last Friday I went along to the START centre in Salford to observe my first Get Into Reading session. I was more excited than nervous – just raring to go and get reading. I had heard Amanda Brown, who was to lead the session, reading at my training day in August, so knew that whatever happened I’d be in for a good story well told. 

As we paused a few pages into Jane Gardam’s short story, The Pangs of Love, I was really impressed and pleased by the group’s readiness to discuss the piece. The story dealt with ideas concerning feminism and male and female roles both in myth and modern society – something that everyone in room related to on one level or another. Two members of the group, Sam and Jill, were very well read and suggested further reading on these subjects themselves. It was also a joy to see Richard, who did not have the same background in reading as the others, tripping over himself to get to read the next passage. We all shared a good laugh over Gardam’s irreverent perspective on Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid (the handsome Prince is ‘good in the bath’ rather than bed!) and really got into character whilst reading U A Fanthorpe’s Not My Best Side. Jill’s young St George was particularly memorable. The poem also allowed discussion of Uccello’s painting Saint George and the Dragon, leaving us all feeling rather cultural all round!

The session also drove home to me how social the act of reading really is. As the group negotiated the pile of novels plonked before them in order to choose their reading for the next few weeks, the more experience members seemed to have made a conscious decision to choose a work that would appeal and be accessible to everyone involved. David Almond’s Skellig came out on top, a simple book with great depth, and something that will please Sam and Jill as well as Richard. 

I was as impressed with the people in my group as I was with the START centre itself; it seemed to be a warren of creativity. Around each corner was another group at work, another collage, another painting. Here’s to the new GIR group adding another splash of colour!

Posted by Casi Dylan

The Reader Organisation, which aims to put shared reading at the heart of everyday life, now runs ‘Read to Lead’ training programmes:

The ‘Read to Lead’ One-Day Workshop provides an introduction to the principles of ‘Get Into Reading’ for anyone interested in bibliotherapy.

The ‘Read to Lead’ Five-Day Accredited Facilitator Training is an intensive residential course intended for people who wish to become accredited Get Into Reading facilitators.


·         September Course: Sun 21st – Fri 26th September 2008 (Application Closed)

·         January Course: Sun 18th – Fri 23rd January 2009

English Courses in Liverpool from October

Last week I was at the Continuing Education open day at Liverpool University where I’ve been planning and organising the English courses for quite a few years. This is an annual promotional event where students can sign up for a whole range of interesting courses, though most sign up over the phone or by post.

The programme this year is extremely varied, with courses on single authors such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Virginia Woolf, historical periods in ‘The Turn of the Century: Novels 1890-1910’ and specific topics such as ghost stories. A course on ‘Shakespeare’s Kings’ ties in with the Pete Postlethwaite King Lear at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre, while ‘Quick Fix Lit’ offers ‘Literature for the Harrassed and Hurried’. The courses come in five, ten, and twenty-week formats, and there are also day-courses offered in the ‘English Literature Saturdays’ series. The full list of English courses is here.

Sign up by phone on 0151 794 6900, or by completing an enrolment form. For more information go to the information page on the CE website.

Chekhov’s Three Sisters in January 2008

January seems like a long way off but William Rossiter has been in touch to remind me about his one day course on Chekhov’s Three Sisters on January 26 at the University of Liverpool. Timed to coincide with Liverpool Everyman Theatre’s production of Diane Samuels’ new play, Three Sisters on Hope Street, the day-course provides a fresh look at a key work by one of the fathers of modern drama, and will suit anyone with an interest in theatre, in Chekhov, or anyone intending to see Samuels’ reworking. Samuels’ play, incidentally, relocates Chekhov’s action to the Jewish community in postwar Liverpool.

‘MASHA: But what’s the point of it all?

TUZENBAKH: The point? Look, it’s snowing out there. What’s the point of that?’ (Act II)

Fees: £28. £18 if you are a retirement pensioner over the age of 60 or a full-time student, or if you receive Job Seekers’ Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Council Tax Benefit, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Disabled Person’s Tax Credit, Incapacity Benefit, or if you are an unwaged dependant of someone in receipt of one of these benefits.

How to enrol: Advance enrolment is essential by Thursday 17 January. You may enrol and pay by debit / credit card by telephoning 0151 794 6900. Alternatively, you can complete an enrolment form (from the Continuing Education prospectus or on the CE website) and send it to us with a cheque for the course fee.

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Continung Education: Journey to the Centre of the Book

Amanda Boston writes to remind us of her Continuing Education course ‘Journey to the Centre of the Book’ which will run over five monthly meetings starting Wed 10th October from 2 – 4 p.m at the University of Liverpool. Amanda says:

We’ll explore the significance of place, both real and imaginary, in five wonderful novels spanning a century. Each two hour session will focus on reading, discussing and enjoying a number of selected passages. Jane Austen’s 1816 masterpiece Emma will be our departure point and personally I can’t wait to journey to Highbury and to reacquainte myself, in your company, with Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley and friends.  It would be great if you can read Emma before the first meeting but don’t worry if you can’t manage – copies of the passages, and various other goodies, will be provided.

In subsequent months we’ll be reading Hardy’s Return of the Native, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, George Eliot’s Middlemarch and finally visiting Joyce’s Dublin in his short story collection The Dubliners.

I am really excited about teaching this course as some of my most vivid reading experiences have been with C. E. classes both as teacher and initially as a student.  looking forward to meeting you.

Here’s the link to Continuing Education at Liverpool. The closing date for signing up is Monday 1 October.

Online Writing Course: Season of Inspiration

Helen Whitehead writes to tell us about an online writing course that she is running with fellow tutor Sharon Rundle. Helen and Sharon were involved with the now defunct trAce online writers’ community which was one of the first of its kind and was organised from Nottingham Trent University. Helen says: “The “Season of Inspiration” entirely online course is back again with our trademark supportive, friendly, online writing community and all-new inspiration!”

Join us in making the most of seasonal colours and scents, metaphors of the season, place and time to provide inspiration for writing that’ll see you through the rest of the year. We offer support, exercises and creative bolstering. You’ll experiment with and collaborate in inspirational walks, visual writing, meaningful journalling and capturing the sights and sounds of the season. Dip in and rediscover your creativity. Previous students will find all-new materials for this course and new students are very welcome (from anywhere in the world).

8th October – 10th December 2007
9 weeks of inspirational exercises and prompts plus a chance to concentrate on a piece of your own work and get feedback.
Cost: £150/AUS$370

To register please email

More information here.