The London Penny Readings 2014

Penny hi resThe London Penny Readings
Sunday 12th October, 5-6.30pm
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX

The Reader Organisation is proud to announce that our second London Penny Readings will be taking place next month.

Our extremely popular public reading event, based on a tradition made famous by Dickens, is coming to the Southbank Centre on Sunday 12th October as part of the London Literature Festival. This year’s festival concentrates on the themes of freedom, justice and democracy, celebrating the optimism of the human spirit and the ability of the arts to transform and change lives, and we will hear some of the greatest classic and contemporary literature that touches upon and celebrates the freedoms and struggles faced in human life.

Joining us for the London Penny Readings are special guest readers including writer, The Guardian columnist and patron of The Reader Organisation Erwin James and Frank Hewetson, one of Greenpeace’s ‘Arctic 30’ activists who was held in prison in Russia for protesting against oil exploration in 2013.

We will also be joined on the day by some of our shared reading group members from our London project, where we currently run a number of groups in a variety of community settings, and for whom literature has played a special role in helping to shape their lives:

“It’s been cathartic and touched things in me that I didn’t expect to be touched. In a very organic way. We are all from somewhere else, very different backgrounds and we’ve found something in common.” – shared reading group member, Southwark

Sticking to Dickensian traditions, entry into the event will cost no more than a penny on the day, but you can register now to guarantee your place for the evening: https://londonpennyreadings.eventbrite.co.uk

Stay tuned to the blog and our other social media channels for more exciting news about the London Penny Readings as we countdown to the date.

Find out more about the London Literature Festival, running from Tuesday 30th September to Monday 13th October, on the Southbank Centre website: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/london-literature-festival

2013 at The Reader Organisation: A Year in Review Part 2

Yesterday we took a look back at the first six months of 2013 at The Reader Organisation – and what a packed six months they were! Today we’re moving on to the second half of the year; here’s what happened from July to December.

July

042The Reader Organisation was mentioned in ‘From Better to Best’ – a report from the Liverpool Education Commission setting out their vision of turning all capable children in Liverpool to leave primary schools as readers. TRO was chosen by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson to help in plans to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city – the goal we’ll be aiming to achieve through our Liverpool City of Readers project, launching in 2014.

Staying with our work in education and with young people, we ran a second Reading for Pleasure day conference at Liverpool Hope University and held a very successful Recruitment Day in London. A film documenting the first year of our RISE project was produced, and we celebrated the success of our hardworking North West volunteers at a special Volunteers Afternoon Tea.

August

king learShakespeare’s greatest tragedy came to Calderstones Mansion House, as Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of King Lear hit Liverpool for two sell-out, five-star performances. The unique outdoor production, starring Joseph Marcell and Rawiri Paratene, reopened the Garden Theatre for the first time in over 30 years, bringing great literature and theatre back to the heart of the community at Calderstones and thrilling audiences from far and wide. Delighted visitors also rolled up to the Mansion House for our first Calderstones Summer Fair.

The Reader Organisation patron Erwin James wrote about the importance of reading in prison for the Guardian Books blog, mentioning TRO’s criminal justice work, and there was another big development in furthering the reading revolution as Social Business Trust invested £280,000 in TRO.

September

awardSeptember was a month recognising The Reader Organisation’s growing social impact – the results of a Social Return on Investment (SRoI) report found that for every £1 invested into Get Into Reading in Wirral, an average of £6.47 worth of benefit to health and wellbeing was returned to group members.

We were also thrilled to win the Growth award at the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards, recognising achievement in social enterprise across Greater Merseyside, as well as being shortlisted for two further categories.

We welcomed the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and High Sheriff of Merseyside to Calderstones Mansion House, started our Llais a Llyfr/Make Friends With A Book project across North Wales and celebrated the second year of one of our most successful partnerships with Forum Housing in Birkenhead.

October

Jen's group with ALAfC 72dpiOur Hope Readers project at Liverpool Hope University entered into its third year, engaging 125 new Education students with a reading for pleasure culture, and Calderstones received its first commission from Mersey Care NHS Trust to run Get Into Reading and A Little, Aloud workshops as part of their Recovery College provision – the first of many, we hope…

TRO made the shortlist in the Smarta100 Awards and Jane was highly commended in the Social and Community Leader category of the  2013 Liverpool Post Leaders Awards. The worldwide success of The Unforgotten Coat continued as Frank Cottrell Boyce won Children’s Book of the Year at the German Children’s Literature Awards.

We took part in a number of events for World Mental Health Day, including theRead For Life’ event at University of Liverpool, shared reading about dignity for Global Dignity Day and had lots of Half-Term Hijinks at Calderstones.

November

MRL_5280We celebrated the achievements of another year full of shared reading at our AGM, held for the first time at Calderstones Mansion House, and heard the inspirational stories of some of our group members from a wide variety of backgrounds. Calderstones was also the setting for several of our Short Courses for Serious Readers, with many satisfied readers enjoying classic literature in the beautiful surroundings.

Frank Cottrell Boyce wowed audiences at Leasowe Library – via the wonders of modern technology; shared reading in the capital got even bigger with the launch of our South London project, expanding our work across Lambeth and Southwark, and Jane was officially launched as one of six new Ashoka Fellows in the UK.

December

christmas reading onlineThe last month of the year was all about the Penny Readings – and to celebrate 10 years of the festive extravaganza of reading and entertainment, we held the very first Penny Readings Festival at St George’s Hall, where members of the public enjoyed an absolutely free afternoon of Christmas reading and fun.

The Penny Readings and Ha’penny Readings themselves were a huge success, with guests including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Paul Farley, Wirral Ukulele Orchestra, the High Sheriff of Merseyside and many more delighting audiences in shows that Dickens would have surely been proud of.

What a year it has been! We couldn’t have made it all happen without the support of our partners, funders and commissioners, volunteers, group members, trustees, staff and every single follower of the reading revolution.

Let’s see what 2014 will bring…

The Penny Readings Festival 2013: A very Readerly Christmas!

Penny Readings fest 1 online
c. Tim Murray

A Readerly Christmas came to St George’s Hall on Sunday with The Reader Organisation’s very first Penny Readings Festival! To celebrate 10 years of our annual festive extravaganza, we opened up the Great Hall to the public for a whole afternoon’s worth of free festive fun that began the season in style.

Our staff, volunteers from our Big Lottery project and stallholders offering an array of Christmas delights provided tons of seasonal activity and plenty of Christmas cheer to the crowds in anticipation of two sold out shows, the Hapenny and Penny Readings. Amongst the festive fun there was plenty of reading, with Christmas themed poems being read aloud in the grand surroundings, fun festive stories for children as well as puppet making and crafts, and the chance to learn some shared reading skills.

Festival goers pledged to Give Us 5 for Reading with the start of our new initiative to get Liverpool reading in 2014, as we opened up our video booth to let people share their favourite stories and poems with us. There was also a very busy Christmas cafe and Christmas presents galore with beautiful jewellery, art and craft, tons of books from TRO and News from Nowhere on sale, and a seasonal selection of cakes from Just For Kids Cakes – who also provided a specially made Christmassy cake as the star prize in the Festival raffle, drawn by Santa himself.

The Penny Readings Festival provided the backdrop to the much anticipated events of the day, which wowed the crowds. First up was our family-friendly fun-packed show the Ha’penny Readings – here’s Penny Readings Administrator Beth with some of the highlights:

Kids corner online
c. Tim Murray

TRO’s very own Patrick Fisher took the lead as MC for the afternoon and continued to impress when he and his comedy group, Sticky Floor took to the stage for ten minutes of improvised comedy – a clear favourite with both the children and adults! Readings were performed by Dave Cookson and Anna Fleming, two of The Reader Organisation’s Young People’s Project Workers, The High Sheriff of Merseyside reading Mr Toad, and Charlie Coyne reading an array of classics including William Blake’s Tyger. On top of this, 11 very brave children from Caldies Creatives, our Saturday morning group at Calderstones, took to the stage to read one of their favourite poems, Christmas Pudding by Charles Thomson.

Festive music came from Grace Farrington on the trumpet and young, talented musician Lewis who wowed with his violin skills when he played White Christmas and The Christmas Song. The final act Take A Hint Theatre Company received a wonderful response from the audience when they performed extracts from their innovative play, Tales that Time Forgot, which powerfully reminded us all how fantastic and important reading is.

The afternoon was then topped off by a visit from a very special guest…  Father Christmas, who kindly brought with him a brand new book for every child in the audience!

For its 10th year, the Penny Readings proved to be bigger and better than ever, delighting an audience that came from all over to enjoy the show. Events Assistant Abi gives us the lowdown:

The Penny Readings wowed again this year with the return of  last year’s showstoppers the Wirral Ukulele Orchestra. Frank Cottrell Boyce also made a reappearance with a reading he’d written just mere moments before he was due to take the stage, leaving the audience in fits of giggles. Another act to tap into the audience’s funny bone was comedic group Sticky Floor with their impromptu comedy.

Newcomer to The Reader Organisation Valetin Gerlier showed off his guitar and song writing skills whilst dance company RuShee got everybody dancing with their Bollywood Dhamaka. The Penny Readings also saw lovely readings from Angela Macmillan who read an extract from Nicholas Nickleby, Louise Jones and Marion Worth (two of The Reader Organisation’s Big Lottery Volunteers) read two poems and local poet Paul Farley read his own work.

christmas reading online 1
c. Tim Murray

As usual Phil Davis ended the night with an extract from A Christmas Carol and Wirral Ukulele Orchestra joined with the sensational i Choir led us out to a lovely rendition of ‘Lean on Me’.

The crowds came away brimming with festive cheer, if our tweets from the evening were anything to go by:

Had a wonderful evening at the #PennyReadings! A truly inspirational night of joy and Christmas cheer! Dickens would be proud!

Fantastic entertaining evening at the Penny Readings, I’d forgotten what a pleasure it is to be read to!

First time in #Liverpool for #pennyreadingsfestival @thereaderorg. Liverpool, I’m in love. Philip Davis FTW!

You can still tweet us your highlights from the amazing show by using the hashtag #PennyReadings

A huge thank you to all of our guests, performers, volunteers, our sponsors Publiship and Liverpool Learning Partnership and the audiences themselves for enjoying the extravganza with us. Here’s to next year!

The Penny Readings Festival: Festive fun for the family

penny reading festivalThe Penny Readings Festival 2013
Sunday 15th December, 1.30-5.30pm
Great Hall, St George’s Hall, Liverpool

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Penny Readings, The Reader Organisation is putting on its biggest event to date and hosting The Penny Readings Festival in St George’s Hall – and it’s this weekend! Join us for an afternoon full of festive reading and fun from 1.30-5.30pm, all completely FREE.

Our very first Penny Readings Festival will be a jam-packed afternoon, and we’ll be taking over the grand Great Hall with tons of Christmas activities, entertainment and much much more to get the whole family well and truly into the Christmas spirit. Take a little look at some of the things we have in store…

Christmas reading

  • Story Time – come along and listen to some stories for the young and young-at-heart in our Kids Corner
  • Experience shared reading with seasonal stories and poems read aloud by TRO staff
  • Try out shared reading aloud with our training taster sessions, run by our Big Lottery Volunteer team
  • Get some great tips on making reading fun with young people
  • Take on a starring role by reading us something aloud on video

There’ll be loads of chances to get creative and show us your artistic talents by designing a cover for your favourite book, make festive finger puppets and help decorate our Readers Christmas tree, as well as games and reading quizzes to keep you entertained and thinking.

The Christmas marketplace will give you the chance to finish off your Christmas shopping, with lots of brilliant books from News from Nowhere and The Reader Organisation, as well as beautiful and unique jewellery and crafts. You can find out more about what we do and our various projects, tuck into some yummy food at the Christmas cafe and satisfy your sweet tooth with Just for Kids Cakes. Plus there’ll be entertainment in store including the chance to get creative with the Wild Writers and enjoy some beautiful music from our Penny Readings guests the i Choir. And of course, no TRO event would be complete without a Reader Raffle with an array of wonderful prizes on offer, including gifts from Independent Liverpool.

Give us 5!

Along with Publiship, the Penny Readings Festival will be sponsored by Liverpool Learning Partnership who we’re joining forces with alongside Liverpool City Council to make 2014 Liverpool’s Year of Reading. Being a reader who reads for pleasure in and out of school is the most important factor affecting a child’s future chances, and so to make every child who leaves primary school a reader, we’re looking to build a City of Readers.

Our Give us 5 for Reading! campaign starts in February, but you can pledge to Give us 5 at The Penny Readings Festival, whether it be 5 minutes spent reading in our YouTube booth, 5 hours to be a City of Readers volunteer or 5 books to donate to our work with young people. Find out more about Give us 5 on the day.

Everyone is welcome to join us for The Penny Readings Festival, this Sunday from 1.30pm – start off your Christmas the Readerly way!

The Penny Readings Festival: Festive fun at the Ha’penny Readings

There are just four days and counting until The Penny Readings Festival arrives in St George’s Hall. We can’t wait for the festive fun to begin, and there’ll be lots of it in store to send levels of Christmas cheer soaring.

The Ha’penny Readings, our family-friendly festive extravaganza, will be returning for the fourth year at 2.30pm in the Concert Room this Sunday. Just like their older sibling the Penny Readings, the show is sold out, but there will be a live video-link for the Ha’penny Readings on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once again, there’s a packed line-up of reading, comedy and music for the whole family to enjoy. Amongst the very special guests on the bill are the High Sheriff of Merseyside, the Take a Hint Theatre Company showcasing highlights from their reading for pleasure play ‘Tales that Time Forgot’, wacky comic fun from Sticky Floor and tons of Christmassy reading from some of our finest young readers, including a suitable seasonal performance from Caldies Creatives.

Plus there’ll be special early Christmas presents with books for all attendees from Vintage Children’s Classics and Royden Revolve Rotary Club – and an appearance from the biggest VIP of all…

If you’ve got your tickets for the show, why not come along early to enjoy our absolutely free Penny Readings Festival? There’ll be reading for the whole family, stalls, refreshments and a whole load of fun to be had, all starting from an hour before the Ha’penny Readings at 1.30pm.

We can’t wait to see you there!

The Penny Readings Festival: Local Talent tops the Bill

Frank and Jane 72 dpiExcitement has been in the air for weeks, and now there are just days until St George’s Hall will be taken over by a festive extravaganza as The Penny Readings Festival takes place!

The Reader Organisation will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our seasonal event by holding a free public Christmas festival from 1.30pm-5.30pm this Sunday, 15th December. There’ll be tons of things for the whole family to do all afternoon, including shared reading activity for children and adults, festive entertainment, craft stalls, a Christmas cafe and lots more. Come along and spend an afternoon getting into the Christmas spirit completely for free in the Great Hall.

All this festive fun is ahead of the main events, the Penny and Ha’penny Readings, sponsored by Publiship and Liverpool Learning Partnership. The 10th Penny Readings at 6.30pm in the Concert Room is completely sold out after another hugely successful public raffle took place at the end of last month. If you were lucky enough to be drawn out of Santa’s hat, you can look forward to an evening full of festive reading and entertainment, including:

There’s all this alongside the famous Reader raffle, with the opportunity to win some wonderful Christmas goodies from the likes of Waterstones Bold Street, Serious Readers, John Lewis Liverpool and Royal Court Theatre. The Christmas season will start in true Reader style in a jam-packed event that Charles Dickens himself would surely be proud of.

Keep your eyes on The Reader Online over the next few days for more on the events and the special free Penny Readings Festival. Got your ticket? Share your excitement with us on Twitter, using the hashtag #PennyReadings

Publiship to sponsor The Penny Readings Festival

We’re thrilled to announce that longstanding supporters of The Reader Organisation, Publiship, will be sponsoring The Penny Readings Festival this year.

Publiship are a succPubliship Logo ONLINEessful logistics company who have been providing logistics provision to printers and publishers for over 25 years. With a network of office locations across the globe, including a UK base in Liverpool, they are relied upon to deliver high quality services in a world where the importance of logistics in the production process is often underestimated. You can read more about the accredited operation on their website, and keep up to date with goings-on on Twitter.

Here at The Reader Organisation we are very pleased to have their support once again as we prepare for and run our first Penny Readings Festival, where the excitement of the established Penny and Ha’penny Readings shows will spill over into a range of further festive entertainment and reading activities for all ages, as well as a range of stalls and a cafe. Read more about The Penny Readings and the accompanying festival here.

http://publiship.com/

https://twitter.com/Publiship_uk

Get ready for The Penny Readings Festival

santa2The Penny Readings Festival
Great Hall, St George’s Hall
Sunday 15th December, from 1.30pm

There’s not long to go until the biggest day of The Reader Organisation’s festive celebrations and as previously announced, this year will be more of an extravaganza than ever before as for the first time we’ll be holding a special seasonal Penny Readings Festival to accompany the ticketed events.

We’re having problems with our emails at the moment, so you still might hear if you’ve struck lucky and won tickets to the Penny or Ha’penny Readings, but whatever the case, you can still join in the fun by coming along to The Penny Readings Festival, running from 1.30pm on Sunday 15th December. Entry to the Festival is completely FREE, with no tickets required, and there will be tons of fun reading-related and Christmassy activities to take part in right through the afternoon.

The Penny Readings Festival will feature lots of reading activities, including story time for children and shared reading taster sessions for adults, as well as games and activities, a cafe, and a chance to get creative. Come along to the magnificent St George’s Hall to find out more about The Reader Organisation and Calderstones Mansion House, finish off your Christmas shopping, and enjoy an afternoon of free festive entertainment. You can also bring along any spare books you have lying around the house to donate to our outreach work, as well as pick up some new ones.  

The Penny Readings Festival is free and open to the public – start your Christmas the Reader way!

The Penny Readings 2013: Hotline OPEN!

Santa is excited for the Penny Readings 2013...
Santa is excited for the Penny Readings 2013…

We’ve given you the date, time, venue and even some of the special guests, and now there’s no need to wait any longer as the ticket hotline for the Penny and Ha’penny Readings 2013 is now OPEN!

There’s just a month to go until the biggest and best festive extravaganza in the city hits St George’s Hall and you can now apply to be in with a chance of bagging your tickets to the hottest Christmas show in town. Tickets are in very high demand so the only way you can apply is by entering our public raffle. Lucky winners will receive tickets to their chosen show – one pair per person for the Penny Readings and up to 4 for the Ha’penny Readings.

There are two ways you can enter the Penny Readings Raffle:

Whichever way you enter, please leave your name, contact details and which event you would like tickets for.

Lines will be open for ONE WEEK ONLY – from now until 5pm, Friday 22nd November – so don’t miss your chance to be in the draw!

All winners will be notified by Thursday 28th November – best of luck!

Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t manage to get tickets – to mark the 10th anniversary, there’ll be a special, free Christmas Penny Readings Festival open to the public on the same day, Sunday 15th December. More information on what’s in store to follow very soon…

The Penny Readings Festival 2013

It’s nearly December and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for The Reader Organisation’s annual Penny Readings extravaganza!

This year is extra special as we’re celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special Christmas festival running alongside the main event on Sunday 15th DFrank and Jane 72 dpiecember in Liverpool’s St George’s Hall. The Penny Readings Festival will be free and open to the public – pop back to the blog in a couple of days to find out more.

Ha’penny Readings: 2.30pm, Sunday 15th December 2013
Penny Readings, 6.30pm, Sunday 15th December 2013

Our festive shows are back with readings, music and entertainment galore, all for just one penny. The family-friendly Ha’penny Readings is jam-packed with Christmas fun for children of all ages, whilst the evening Penny Readings includes special guests such as Frank Cottrell Boyce and Wirral Ukulele Orchestra.

As ever, tickets for both free events are in high demand so there will be a public raffle to allocate the limited number (one pair of tickets per person for the Penny Readings; up to 4 for the Ha’penny).

To enter, email pennyreadings@thereader.org.uk or call the Penny Readings hotline on 07812 238 500,  leaving your name, contact details and which event you would like tickets for. The line will be open from 9am on Friday 15th November until 5pm Friday 22nd November (any calls or emails before or after this time will not be entered into the draw).

Get Into Reading group members and volunteers can apply for tickets through their group facilitators.

All winners will be notified by Thursday 28th November – good luck!