Reader Review of 2012

In 2012 we celebrated Get Into Reading’s tenth birthday, held our first Penny Readings in London, delivered a Read to Lead training course in Welsh, published A Little, Aloud for Children, and secured dozens of new commissions across the country. Just a quiet one then…

Here are some of our 2012 highlights:

Reader Events

2012 LPR Louis de Bernieres
Louis de Bernieres

To mark Dickens’ bicentenary, in January we took the Penny Readings to London. AS Byatt, Arthur Smith, Lucinda Dickens Hawsley, Louis de Bernieres and many other readers and performers took to the stage at the British Library to mark the occasion (you listen to an Australian radio feature about it here). And of course we were back in Liverpool in December with the Penny and Ha’penny Readings packing out St. George’s Hall once again.

As part of Guernsey’s Literature Festival we took our Ha’penny Readings on tour around the island with a packed schedule full of fun, entertainment and lots of stories and poems.

Stories Before Bedtime: a series of late night read aloud events at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly, with readers Niamh Cusack and Tom Hiddleston in February, Miranda Richardson, Sonya Cassidy and Mathew Horne in June, and Brian Blessed, Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard in August.

Our annual conference, ‘Reading to Live Well’, was held in May at the British Library in London. Speakers included Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practioners, writers Lemn Sissaya and Erwin James, and Professor Jonathan Rose from Drew University.

‘Looking Backwards, Moving Forward’, a showcase event at the University of Stirling in July, presented the qualitative findings of a pilot Get Into Reading project in Scotland alongside the University of Liverpool’s CRILS evaluation report, ‘A Literature Based Intervention for Older People Living with Dementia’ (download the report here).

September was a time of great celebration for us – the tenth birthday of Get Into Reading – and we put on a special birthday bash in Wirral (where is all began) for 300 people, with group members joining us from all over the country.

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)
Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)

In October Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, part of the creative team behind the Olympic Opening Ceremony, discussed the literary influences on ‘the greatest show on earth’ to students at Hope University as part of our Hope Readers project.

Reading in Secure Environments (RISE), funded by Arts Council England, launched in October to bring high-quality, challenging contemporary writers to readers in secure criminal justice and mental health care settings in partnership with literature festivals around the UK. So far Jackie Kay, Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams and Michael Stewart have taken part. You can read more on the RISE blog.

We also delivered dozens of workshops, presentations and key note talks at national and international conferences and literature festivals including: LSE Literary Festival; Personality Disorder Conference, Northern Ireland; Book and Publishing Studies conference Antwerp; Festival of the World Summit, London’s Southbank Centre; Prisoner Action Net Conference; and TEDx Observer.


This blog now gets over 16,000 visits a month, our Twitter followers are well over 4000 and we’ve got an ever growing number of Facebook friends. Are you one of them?

Sep10ber (#Sep10ber), to celebrate Get Into Reading’s tenth birthday, got our social media channels buzzing with our ‘Perfect 10s’ questions – asking such things as ‘What was your favourite book when you were 10?’


Our family reading project at Egremont Primary School, Wirral appeared on ITV Granada Reports at (watch here), the Guardian Book Blog published ‘The Reader Organisation: a mutual improvement society for modern times’ and the Huffington Post UK, featured a piece on our work, ‘How One Charity Is Tackling Complex Mental Health Problems Using The Simple Power Of Reading’.


Jane Davis was named as one of 50 New Radicals in Britain by NESTA and The Observer in February, and in November, was shortlisted for one of Liverpool’s Leaders Awards.

SDP1528-0174Our Get Into Reading Pilot Project for Older People with Dementia and Carers in Scotland won the EDGE 2012 Award for Social Innovation in community engagement.

The Unforgotten Coat, written for The Reader Organisation’s ‘Our Read’ 2011 by Frank Cottrell Boyce, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2012.

Our Big Lottery funded Merseyside Reader Volunteer Scheme was ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Encouraging Health and Wellbeing’ category at the North West We Can Empowerment Awards in December.

Read to Lead courses

Two women looking inquisitively at their GIR groupWe’ve run 27 Read to Lead training courses up and down the country this year, in a variety of locations, including Dartington Hall (Devon) and Kensington Palace, and for Libraries Northern Ireland, South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, Hereford Primary Care Trust, South East Wales Libraries, and Gwynedd County Council – in Welsh!

We’ve also delivered lots of masterclasses as CPD for our trained practioners, A Little, Aloud workshops and a learning exchange visit to our sister project in Denmark, Laeseforeningen.


ALittleAloud for Children cover online

Our second read aloud anthology, A Little, Aloud for Children (David Fickling) was published in June and was summer chosen as a Book of The Year by the Financial Times.

Four fabulous issues of The Reader magazine have been published this year, including interviews with Jeanette Winterson and David Morrissey, an extract from Tim Parks’ latest novel, Brian Patten and Bernard O’Donoghue as Poets on their Work, and new fiction from David Constantine and John Kinsella.

New Commissions

Our new Get Into Reading commissions this year have included: West London Mental Health Trust, 5 Boroughs Partnership Trust, North West Strategic Health Authority, Maudsley Charity, Greater Manchester Probation Trust, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Personality Disorder – PIPES and North East Prison Project, Devon Libraries, Big Lottery Wales, HMP Reading (AB Charitable Foundation), Southwark Innovation Fund, and Alzheimer’s Society.

If you still want more, you can read our 2011/12 Annual Report here.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to make it all happen – and roll on 2013!

Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.

Get Into Reading’s Big Birthday Bash!

As you’re already aware, this month has been Sep10ber at The Reader Organisation – marking ten years since the start of Get Into Reading. We’ve been celebrating throughout the past few weeks, and today the jubilation is coming to a head as we hold our big birthday party.

Get Into Reading’s 10th Anniversary Party is taking place this afternoon from 4-6pm in Wirral – the birthplace of Get Into Reading – and it promises to be a wonderful day. Coming along are volunteers, staff, supporters of The Reader Organisation and the most important V.I.Ps of all – lots of local Get Into Reading group members. There’ll be tea, testimonials, lots and lots of reading, as well as the ingredient that no birthday or TRO party would be complete without – cake.

Even those Get Into Reading members who are unable to be there in person have been involved in helping us to celebrate, as we’ve been asking group members from across the country to share their memories of the past years of Get Into Reading. They’ll all be pinned up on a special memory wall at the party, but here’s a selection of some of the brightest highlights:

‘It’s like time stands still, a tranquil moment in my week’ – Shona, Reading Room, Newton Ferrers, South Devon

‘Feel cock-a-hoop since I joined the group! Great reads, kind friends, no fuss – just a lovely buzz!’ – Betty Gris, Vauxhall

‘You can travel and have adventures by the turn of a page’ – George Norman, The Lauries

‘Kindness, new horizons, commitment, generosity, respect, mutual aid, support, sharing’ – Lesley Pole, Chelsea Reading Group

‘Get Into Reading has inspired me and taken me to another planet’ –  S, HMP Liverpool

‘A not to be missed weekly intellectual and happy club. A God send!’ – Jim Warbrick, Bebington Central Library

‘I might mention things buried deep down that are bothering me, cos something in the story or the poem will remind me, and it like releases the pressure inside me.’ – Lesley, Upstairs @ 83, Liverpool

‘When you read literature or poems it brings things back to you from your own life, which you couldn’t have put into words before, and it helps us to put some of our deep things into words.’  – Nick, Upstairs @ 83, Liverpool

‘To read about a new situation
To feel a new sensation
And have great elation
Is a really new education
Thank you Reader Organisation
It’s been a real revelation’ – Terry Formby, Norris Green Library, Liverpool

We’ve also asked members to share their favourite poems from Get Into Reading, and there’s been a plethora:

‘Adlestrop’, Edward Thomas: Such a wonderful, peaceful impression of a still, sunny afternoon in times gone by – Ann, Reading Room, Newton Ferrers, South Devon

‘The Trees’, Philip Larkin: The poem evokes promise of hope after tragedy, fresh start after failure – Tina Campbell, St James Library, Wirral

‘Friendship’ by Caroline Norton: It says how it is, how life is. I like reading. – Jean, Cartref Residential Care Home

‘After a While’ by Veronica A. Shoffstall: I like this poem as it is so true about life and you have all you need inside you, you just have to look and believe this fact. – Brenda Dyer, Chelsea Reading Group

‘Invictus’ by William Henley: A positive perspective on a very hard life! – Lawrence, Ealing Hospital

Keep your eyes on the blog for all the fun of our big birthday bash!

Sep10ber: Great literature – in 10 words

We’re into the final week of Sep10ber – time does fly when you’re having fun – but we’re saving the best for last, gearing up for some very big birthday celebrations…

You’ve certainly helped us get into the party spirit during the past month by voting in our poll to find the top Get Into Reading novel and poem, and perfect reader (if you haven’t already, there’s still time to cast your choices – the poll will be open until the end of the week), as well as by giving us your Perfect 10s.

Last week we wanted to know which book you’d have to have as your companion if you happened to be stranded on a desert island: there were some exceptional choices, including Pride and Prejudice, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Ulysses (we like the delicious irony of reading about the events of a singular day whilst being stuck for what could be a very long time) – and, rather pleasingly, A Little, Aloud (both anthologies would be sure to provide some great variety).

For our final Sep10ber teaser, this week we’re asking you to…:
Describe your favourite book or poem in 10 words.

Now’s the chance to get creative – maybe you’ll choose 10 singular words, or perhaps create another very short story.
Would Wuthering Heights be wild, wrought and wonderful? Is Sea Fever searing, sentimental – or salty?

Let us know your ten-word reviews or descriptions by commenting below, tweeting us (no need to worry about going over the character limit) or posting on our Facebook wall over the next week.

Literature in 10 words? It can be done, and quite perfectly too. Here’s just a couple of the very imaginative responses we had from our social media channels:

‘I have Ophidiophobia and still enjoyed reading about the snakes’ – that applies to my TWO fave books

cleverness. curiosity. channelled. creativity. cadaver. creature. cursed. chased. criminalised. calamitous.

Sep10ber: Desert Island Books

As quick as a flash, half of Sep10ber is behind us already, but we’ve got lots more shared reading fun to pack into the remaining days which are sure to keep the party going.

We had an absolutely brilliant response to last week’s Sep10ber question, when we asked you to tell us your favourite book when you were 10. A spellbinding selection ensued, with many memorable choices that brought back lots of wonderful memories of childhood reading, but amongst the titles mentioned there were some clear favourites including: Anne of Green Gables, The Famous Five, a selection of Roald Dahl titles (Danny the Champion of the World, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), The Borrowers and Ballet Shoes. All excellent choices to start the ideal library for any 10 year old.

Robinson Crusoe – the ultimate Desert Island book?

This week’s teaser may set you adrift, but is guaranteed to get you thinking about what reading you really find essential. The question is:

Which book would you take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

The Reader Organisation staff have come up with 10 of their best selections:

And a couple of choices from our supporters and associates:

What would yours be? Tell us throughout the week by commenting below, logging onto Twitter or Facebook.

The literary fun doesn’t stop there – once you’ve made your mind up, you can also vote in our big Sep10ber poll to find the ultimate Get Into Reading book and poem of the last 10 years, and who would be your perfect person to read them aloud.

Another great response from our readers on social media, offering up their Desert Island Books. Just make sure they don’t get dropped overboard – we wouldn’t want any soggy pages.

James Joyce – Ulysses. I like the contrast of reading a long complicated book that is about a single day, whilst being trapped on a simple deserted island for a long time.

A Little, Aloud – perfect Desert Island book: poems, short stories, extracts from novels, all with our response to our shared humanity as the focus.

Sep10ber: Tell us about your Perfect 10s

We’re now 10 days into Sep10ber, and already it’s proving to be a great month full of shared reading activity – there really is no better way to celebrate all the fun, power and positivity of Get Into Reading than to get along to one of the many groups currently running across the country every week. Don’t forget, you can keep voting throughout the month in our big birthday poll to find the ultimate book and poem of the past 10 years of Get Into Reading, as well as let us know about who your ideal reader would be.

As well as asking those big questions, we’re also marking Sep10ber by searching for some Perfect 10s – asking some reading-related questions centred around that all important number. Each week in Sep10ber, we’ll be giving you a new literary teaser to ponder.

This week’s question is sure to conjure up some nostalgia; we want to know:

What was your favourite book when you were 10?

So many to choose from, and there’s sure to be some brilliant and varied choices from across the generations. Perhaps you share the choice of The Savage author and The Reader Organisation patron David Almondwho was thrilled by the magic and adventure of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green.

(We’re quite sure that David’s new book, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, will prove to be a present and future favourite for many 10 year olds…)

Another TRO patron, Blake Morrison, had a particular preference for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island.

Now that you’ve been inspired, we want to hear from you about the book you loved when you were 10. Take a trip back in time and then tell us all about your choices by leaving a comment below, tweeting us or posting on our Facebook wall throughout the week. 

We had an overwhelming response to this question across Twitter and Facebook: you gave us enough books to fill a library more than fit for any 10 year old! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful memories with us, here are just a few selections:

Anne of Green Gables. I loved the feisty protagonist, Anne-Shirley, that L.M Montgomery created.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. I so wanted to be one of those Fossil girls.

Matilda by Roald Dahl. Read it numerous times and never got fed up. #Sep10ber

The Secret Garden: loved the idea of being away from adults and I have a memory of clearing away a tangle of weeds leaving bare soil from which anything was possible.

Sep10ber is here: Cast your votes!

Welcome to Sep10ber, a whole month dedicated to revolutionary shared reading…

September is a very special month for us here at The Reader Organisation, as we are celebrating the 10th birthday of our outreach project, Get Into Reading.

Back in 2002, Jane Davis set up two weekly reading groups for young mothers and adult learners in Birkenhead, and the reading revolution was begun:

I wanted to get books into the hands of people like myself who needed them, so I set up Get Into Reading to bring books and people together.

People began to tell me: ‘This isn’t just reading, this is good for my health, you should be getting paid by the NHS.’

Ten years later, we now work with a diverse range of partners, including Mersey Care NHS Trust, Wirral and Liverpool Libraries, HMP Reading, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, Bupa Care Homes, Idea Store, MIND, Tesco and Liverpool Hope University.

Each week we deliver over 300 groups across the UK, from Glasgow to London, reaching over 1300 people aged 3 to 103. We have taken Shakespeare to supermarkets, poetry to prisons, and Hardy to hospitals.

To mark this special milestone, we’ve come up with a list of the most popular books from the past 10 years of Get Into Reading and we want to hear from youwhich are your favourite books and poems, and who would you most like to hear reading them aloud?
Click here to read the list, cast your vote, and make your suggestions!

Don’t forget to stay with us here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook over the next month as we’ll be buzzing with activity and ensuring Sep10ber is a birthday to remember!