Library Memory Groups in Wiltshire and the South West

BUPA care home 3The Reader Organisation in South West England have been running Library Memory Groups in Wiltshire in conjunction with Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group for nearly a year now, with the four groups across the region attracting regular members as well as offering volunteering opportunities to people who enjoy reading and have the spare time to assist in facilitating in the groups.

Our Library Memory Groups in Wiltshire currently run in Warminster and Mere Libraries on Wednesdays and Royal Wootton Bassett and Pewsey Libraries on Thursdays (full details on our website). Library Memory Groups are especially designed for people living with dementia and other memory loss conditions as well as their carers to connect through shared reading and in many cases rediscover literature and the many memories and experiences it recalls. The group leader – Josephine – reads the poetry or short stories aloud in each session, allowing the literature to come to life within the room and for the members, with discussions following on.

There’s been a vast range of great literature read at the groups since they began, with a recent WW1 poetry session focusing on In Flanders Fields by John McCrae amongst others:

“One woman liked the mention of larks singing, and said that birds didn’t take any notice of boundaries.  She envied them their freedom.  Another person thought the description of life, in the second stanza, included below, very beautiful and moving.  “It’s so simple, but says everything,” she said, “these are the important things in life: to see dawn, see the sun set, to love and to be loved.” “

As with the rest of our volunteering projects around the UK, our volunteers in our Library Memory Groups are highly valued, helping us to bring shared reading experiences to more people as Assistant Group Facilitators.For a small amount of time each week – one and a half hours – you can make a difference to the lives of people with memory loss, absorb yourself in great literature and receive fully funded training from The Reader Organisation: our next specially commissioned Read to Lead training course in Wiltshire is running in February 2015.

“It is unbelievably moving and it is a real joy. We all seem to know that this is a safe place as well; that everybody can share things and emotions and memories.” – volunteer for The Reader Organisation in Wiltshire

If you’re in Trowbridge, you can get a taste of shared reading in our Library Memory groups at a special Christmas themed taster session at Trowbridge Library on Thursday 18th December, 2-3pm. Come along to relax, read, listen and talk about stories and poems, carers welcome. Contact Josephine at or call 07812 238503 for more information. There will be more sessions coming up in the New Year, so stay tuned to our social media channels for more details.

The effect of the sessions can be best seen from this wonderful poem that one of our group members from Royal Wootton Bassett wrote after regularly attending:

Our Reading Day by John Hooper

Thursday, it is our reading day
A day we enjoy in every way
We listen, learn and read
The social side is good indeed
A joke, a laugh, a cup of tea
The enjoyment for all is plain to see
Too soon we leave and go our way
But it sure has added to our day

The Reader Organisation in the South West runs Library Memory Groups in Wiltshire, Devon and Gloucestershire. For full information see the ‘Reading With Us’ page on our website:


The Penny Readings 2014

The Reader Organisation’s most popular annual event is returning for its eleventh year and is already highly anticipated – and today we can announce the dates for when you’ll be able to get your hands on tickets to the Penny Readings 2014, which returns to St George’s Hall in Liverpool on Sunday 21st December.

Tickets will be released to the general public in the week commencing Monday 17th November. This year, tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, available both online, at Calderstones Mansion House and further distribution points to be announced at a later date.

Members of our shared reading groups will be able to apply for priority tickets two weeks before general release, on Monday 3rd November, and can apply through their group facilitators.

As ever, you’ll be able to apply for tickets to the family-friendly Ha’penny Readings in the afternoon as well as the evening event.

The Penny Readings have become a staple of the festive season in Liverpool, so make sure you pop the dates in your diary! Stay tuned for more information on what promises to be another spectacular show of reading, music and entertainment coming soon…

Penny Readings fest 1 online



TRO’s Christmas Reading Recommendations

reader christmasIt’s Christmas Eve and hopefully by now you will have bought all of your presents, got the turkey waiting in the oven and hung up the stockings. Even if you still have some last minute preparation to do, take some time out to have a look at The Reader Organisation approved Christmas reading recommendations – a list that will keep you stocked up on festive goodwill and cheer when levels are at risk of running low.

There’s also our Recommended Reads for Children Christmas Collection which has lots to offer little ones and the young at heart alike – and which of us isn’t a big kid at this time of year?

From all of us at The Reader Organisation, we wish you a safe, peaceful and very Merry Christmas filled with great literature.

Obadiah Oak, Mrs Griffiths and the Carol Singers (from Notwithstanding) – Louis de Bernieres
It’s a story of village life at Christmas, and a grumpy woman definitely short of Christmas cheer who ends up having a change of heart.  It always goes down well in groups.
(Val Nobbs and Penny Markell, London)

Towards the Winter Solstice by Timothy Steele is the most fantastic, multi-cultural, Christmas poem – brilliantly written and choc full of wordplay and wonderful visual images – so much to talk about here.
(Sally Sweeney, South West)

christmas present booksOrlando by Virginia Woolf contains a seasonal passage about people ice skating on the frozen River Thames (Damian Taylor, North West)

On The Black Hill (Chapter 42)Bruce Chatwin
This is a gorgeous chapter that definitely includes spoilers, but it is a welcome one in what can be a very bleak and isolated novel. It involves two very secluded farmer twins who discover a life-changing branch of their family tree and, as such, attend a nativity play. The chapter is short, but warm and hilariously funny in a way only children’s nativities can be. But it is also an uncomfortable delve into the unknown for the characters and the way they have been (almost ignorantly) living their lives. Ultimately: life-affirming.
(Ian Walker, Wirral)

Earlier in the month we ran ‘Stop The World I Want To Get Off!’, a special Short Course for Serious Readers at Calderstones Mansion House designed to find some pre-Christmas peace when everything gets too hectic. Bearing in mind the last moments of Christmas chaos a good poem to read is The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

During the day we looked at different ways of finding respite from overwhelming feelings through poems which focused on love, nature and religious faith, including the lengthily named, but wonderful That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection by Gerard Manley Hopkins, I Walk Among Trees And Sit Still by Wendell Berry and further Wordsworth in Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.

One attendee said that coming along to shared reading groups and Short Courses For Serious Readers was ‘like going among trees and sitting still’ for her – that she forgot her worries when she was concentrating on the literature and found an oasis in the reading! With that in mind, why not begin January with our latest Short Course at Calderstones, asking Can a Book Change your Life? (Saturday 18th January, 10am-4pm: full details on our website)
(Kate McDonnell, Liverpool)

Christmas poemsThere was also plenty of festive literary fare being read at the Penny Readings Festival on our shared reading tables and in our special seasonal poetry booklets. Here are just some of the favourites:

Christmas Cracker – Jeanette Winterson

The Night Before Christmas (A Visit from St Nicholas) – Clement Clarke Moore

Mistletoe – Walter de la Mare

Talking Turkeys – Benjamin Zephaniah

Christmas Carol – Eleanor Farjeon

Christmas Bells – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Featured Poem: The Holy Night by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It’s the last week of Advent with Christmas only a couple of days away, so it’s time for our last seasonal Featured Poem.

As the special time is fast upon us, we’re rounding off with an image of the traditional Christmas scene as presented by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The nativity has been represented many times in poetry but it’s always worth reflecting back on the origins of the season, particularly so close to the day, to find some peace and promise amidst what can sometimes be a difficult occasion.

The Holy Night

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horn’d faces,
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonished hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tongue:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Shared reading comes to Wiltshire

books and tea reading circleAs a New Year approaches, we’re looking forward to even more shared reading across the UK as The Reader Organisation’s current work in the South West is expanding into the county of Wiltshire. Building upon our previous work in Devon, we are introducing new Library Memory Groups for people with memory loss and their carers across Wiltshire, in partnership with Wiltshire Council, starting in January 2014.

Wiltshire received its first taste of shared reading at a special seasonal session in Mere Library, the venue for one of our new Library Memory Groups, last week – which went down a treat with those who came along. Our Wiltshire Project Worker Josephine Corcoran tells us more:

We ate mince pies and read a short extract from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (featured in A Little, Aloud) which had members talking about their memories of snow piles that buried their front doors!  They had to shovel their way out.  The snowy landscape made others remember the milkman and his horse bringing the milk which was frozen solid in the glass bottles.  One member’s favourite line was “….and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining room, and the gong was bombilating…”  We all agreed that was such a good word – it really seems to describe the sound the gong would make!  One lady had a gong although she’d never used it. Perhaps she would, she said, if her house was on fire like Mrs Prothero’s house.

Then it was on to sharing two poems: Innocents Song by Charles Causeley and Minstrels by William Wordsworth.  We talked a lot about the following lines “Why does he ferry my fireside / As a spider on a thread, / His fingers made of fuses / And his tongue of gingerbread?”  It made one man think of all the pictures you see looking into an open fire.  We talked about the way the poem started off seemingly innocent but how it soon became much darker. “How can you ferry a fireside?” one man asked. Someone said it seemed that someone was crossing in front of the fire, weaving his way like a spider.

The ‘minstrels’ in William Wordsworth’s poem reminded people of carol singers in the village of Mere.  “So stout and hardy were the band / That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.”  “Mmm, yes”, said one member, “that’s like some of the people in a folk band that I know.”  When we read the poem for a final time one man joined in cheerfully with the final lines: “Duly pronounced with lusty call, / And “Merry Christmas” wished to all.”

We have four new Library Memory Groups especially for people with memory loss and their carers starting in Wiltshire in January:

  • Mere Library, Barton Lane, Mere, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 6JA, 2.30-4pm (starts Wednesday 8th January 2014)
  • Purton Library, High Street, Purton, Wiltshire SN5 4AA, 11.30-1pm (starts Thursday 16th January 2014)
  • Pewsey Library, Ashton Close, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5EQ, 2.30-4pm (starts Thursday 16th January 2014)
  • Warminster Library, Three Horseshoes Walk, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 9BT, 11.30am-1pm (starts Wednesday 22nd January 2014)

For full details about our Library Memory Groups and our work in the South West, see our website:

For more information about our Wiltshire projects and other shared reading happenings in the South West, follow the team on Twitter: @TheReaderSW

Recommended Reads for Children: A Christmas Collection

Just in time for the season, our regular Recommending Reader Marianne is back with a selection of cracking Christmas reads the whole family can enjoy together over the holiday. You might just find something that would be a perfect Christmas present – there is no better time to snuggle up and share a story with those children in your life.

night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore/Holly Hobbie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2013)

You will find many illustrated interpretations of this classic poem by Clement C. Moore, translated in many languages it continues to be recited to children all over the world. I have chosen this new 2013 edition by acclaimed watercolorist Holly Hobbie. Hobbie introduces the reader to an entirely new character to capture the magic and heighten the wonder of this exciting, mysterious time.

stick manStick Man – Julia Donaldson (Alison Green Books; 2009)

Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson yet again produces a winning formula with the character of Stick Man and his instantly loveable family, ‘stick lady love and his stick children three’. Stick Man’s journey takes him away from home and into dangerous places for sticks, where dogs want to play, swans want to build and fire wants to burn but he also happens to meet somebody stuck in a chimney…. I wonder who that could be?  As always with Donaldson there are wonderful rhymes and the illustrations by Axel Scheffler make this a real festive treat.

big snowBig Snow – Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus  and Giroux; 2013)

This cosy and funny book tells the story of an excited and frustrated boy watching hopefully as the wintry weather develops slowly into a ‘big snow’. I loved this book, because I was always the child checking the weather and hoping for an epic snowstorm. Many will relate to the mum in this story, as she asks for help cleaning from her distracted son but ends up having to do more work as a result. There are wonderful details tucked into the illustrations and the images of snow falling, from the first small sprinkles to the steady pelting of no-nonsense flakes captures the progression of a serious, big snowfall perfectly.

let it snowLet it Snow: Three Holiday Romances – John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Penguin; 2013)

From three of today’s bestselling teen authors, the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love and romance. If you are looking for a light and fun Christmas read to curl up with when it’s cold outside then these three short stories are perfect. John Green is a fantastic writer of young adult fiction and if you haven’t come across him I urge you to read An Abundance of Katherine’s or his latest heart-breaking  novel Fault in Our Stars.

peter rabbitThe Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit – Emma Thompson (Warne; 2012)

Beautifully illustrated and written in a style faithful to Beatrix Potter, Oscar winning screenwriter and actress Emma Thompson sets her story just before Christmas. Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny and a new friend, William the Turkey are pretty excited for the upcoming festivities until they realize that William is meant to be Mr. McGregor’s Christmas supper! Just in time, Peter and Benjamin hide William, and the three enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner of pickled radishes and barley cake at the Rabbit family burrow.

jolly christmas postmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin; 2013)

Twenty years ago, long before anyone else thought of tucking actual letters and notes inside a book, Little Brown published The Jolly Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. This wonderful book gave children a chance to read letters sent from one fairy tale or Mother Goose character to another. In this Christmas edition we once again see the postman delivering letters to well loved characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Red Riding Hood. The Jolly Christmas Postman is a simple picture storybook, a timeless gem that just gets it right. Beautifully illustrated with letters and parcels for children to open and touch.

polar expressThe Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen; 2009)

I truly love this story for it reminds me how Christmases are supposed to feel; the magic that Christmas morning brings; the wonderful cooking; those waking moments when we run towards our Christmas stockings just to check what Santa has brought for us. This book contains magic, the North pole, elves, children and of course Santa Claus.  This is a timeless tale anyone could enjoy….as long as they believe!

the lump of coal#The Lump of Coal – Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins; 2008) 

This suggestion is probably more for the adults but I love Lemony Snicket more and more and although the intended age of audience is ambiguous I just had to have this hilarious tale in my top ten. A charming little holiday story about the trials and tribulations of a lump of coal who aspires to make avant-garde art. The Lump of Coal is a simplistic humorous story yet features a final page that is utterly remarkable, a beautiful paragraph that stands on a par with Seuss and Dickens for great Christmas morality. I will share it with you here:

“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.”

room for a little oneRoom for a Little One: A Christmas Tale – Martin Waddell (Little Simon; 2008)

Room for a Little One is an endearing tale by Martin Waddell, taken from the Nativity it tells the story of how all the animals are welcomed into the stable to see the birth of Jesus. A lovely introduction to the nativity for very young readers with beautiful illustrations. I’m sure this book will become a Christmas Eve tradition for many families.

gift of the magiGift of the Magi – O. Henry (minedition; 2013)

I have always loved this story and enjoyed sharing it with my Get into Reading Groups at Christmas time. This new, beautifully illustrated interpretation of the well-loved, poignant short story by O. Henry would be appreciated by older children and would make a wonderful gift. Briefly, the story involves Della and Jim who are very much in love  but have no money to buy gifts for each other. When Della decides to make a great sacrifice that will give her enough money to buy the present Jim deserves, she soon discovers that that her selfless act may have been for naught. A heart-breaking yet wonderful tale.

You can buy any of these books through The Reader Organisation’s Amazon Bookshop link or your local independent bookshop: search through The Bookseller’s Association website to find the one closest to you. Plus, there’s always Santa…

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!

Featured Poem: Christmas at Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson

The big day is drawing ever nearer, we’ve just enjoyed a Penny Readings Festival full of Christmas cheer, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy another helping of Christmas poetry (there’s just one more to go after this one).

This week’s seasonal Featured Poem comes from Robert Louis Stevenson, who was more than used to a bit of adventure. Here, we’re treated to a Christmas that is out of the ordinary – not spent on solid ground but instead, the ocean wave. Memories of a conventional Christmas are conjured up throughout the poem, though it ends on a rather melancholy note. Could you imagine spending Christmas away from home? Perhaps you wouldn’t mind trying the adventure of a ‘different’ Christmas? Take a read and see what you think…

Christmas at Sea

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’-wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the suff a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard.
So’s we saw the cliff and houses and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessèd Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessèd Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
“All hands to loose topgallant sails,” I heard the captain call.
“By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,” our first mate, Jackson, cried.
. . . .”It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,” he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood;
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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!