Michael Morpurgo: Reading aloud can help boys enjoy reading

Author of the Foreword to A Little, Aloud for Children, Michael Morpurgo spoke passionately yesterday in an article he wrote for the Guardian about what he sees as the failure of modern literacy teaching to encourage children, and boys in particular, to enjoy reading for pleasure.

In his blog post for the Guardian Teacher Network, the acclaimed children’s writer spoke about his own discovery of the delights of reading as a young boy, being read to by his mother and brother at bed-time. This is a theme that he also uses in his Foreword to our anthology for young readers:

Image copyright www.guardian.co.uk

One of my very first memories is of being read to by my mother. It was a magical time when myolder brother and I had her to ourselves at the end of the day. Those are the stories that I remember best and love the most to this day. She gave me a precious gift, handed down to me her own love of stories, of the music in the words.

From the Foreword to ‘A Little, Aloud for Children’

The idea about adults needing to pass-on the enjoyment of reading to children is something Morpurgo returns to in his recent article, highlighting the fact that parents, grandparents, carers and teachers need to love books themselves before they can pass-on a love of reading to the children around them. Speaking about the particular stories that got his young self into reading, Morpurgo refers to the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling – one of which, ‘How the Rhinoceros got his Skin’, is featured in A Little, Aloud for Children.

We can’t help thinking as we read his excellent article that this is exactly why Michael Morpurgo wrote our Foreword: A Little, Aloud for Children is the perfect book to get adults and young people together in a shared enjoyment of reading. The prose and poetry collected together in the anthology has been selected because it has worked in practice: giving pleasure to a child somewhere, when they read and shared it with someone else. Each of the pieces in the book has an approximate reading time with it, which is ideal for adults looking for soemthing to read with children, but unsure about beginning a whole novel.

Out of the Blue and a Bewitching blog

This Saturday 30th June, representatives from The Reader Organisation will be taking part in the Out of the Blue Music festival in Everton Park.

The Magical Storytime sessions that TRO runs at West Everton Community Council will be going al-fresco this Saturday, to join-in the celebrations at the 21st Birthday of this great event.

Magical Storytime are reading, song, movement and craft sessions for children under 5, and at this sepecial festival series, myself and some of my colleagues will be reading aloud some fantastic children’s stories, including Edward Lear’s poem, ‘The Jumblies’, as featured in A Little, Aloud for Children.

The Out of the Blue Music festival runs from 12-7pm at China Street Bowl – you can get all the latest info and news by following the festival on Twitter: @outoftheblue4.

And that’s not all … the fabulous children’s book blog, Bookwitch, has shown its appreciation of A Little, Aloud for Children by writing an enchanting review of the book this week. Many thanks, Bookwitch – we are delighted you enjoyed the book, and happy dipping!

International Short Story Day: 20th June

It’s often been said that good things come in small packages, and today the literary world is endorsing this view-point by celebrating the short story. Wednesday 20th June has been declared International Short Story Day, meaning that from the UK, to Europe, to the USA, various publishers, literary groups and readers are gathering together for fun, innovative and creative events on as part of the world-wide  celebration for the ‘small-but-beautiful’ literary form.

Both of the books in our A Little, Aloud series pay tribute to the short story, and feature a wide selection from some of the world’s best-loved stories and authors. Inside the pages of our newest anthology, A Little, Aloud for Children, you will find such classics as ‘How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin’  by Rudyard Kipling and The Brothers Grimm, as well as  modern favourites  by the likes of Michael Morpurgo and  Shaun Tan.

The wonderful website for International Short Story Day has information about all of the events taking place around the world, as well as recommended reading and access to some specially commissioned short stories by acclaimed authors. There ais also a huge selection of audio-visual material, including a wonderful MP3 of a reading by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who also features in A Little, Aloud for Children and is a patron of The Reader Organisation.

Let us know how you plan to celebrate International Short Story Day, and what your favourite short story from the A Little, Aloud anthologies is – go to the ‘Your Comments’ section of this website.

Angela Macmillan on BBC Book Cafe

Yesterday, editor of the A Little, Aloud anthologies Anglea Macmillan appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s Book Cafe to speak about the creation of the new anthology for children, and the importance of encouraging children from a young age to read for pleasure, by reading aloud with them.

You can listen to the programme online by clicking here: the interview with Angie comes at 36 minutes in. You only have 6 days to catch it before it disappears though, so don’t hang about!

Lunchtime Classics at Waterstones with Angela Macmillan

Looking for something more interesting to do with your lunch-hour? Then why not pop down to Waterstones in Liverpool One next Tuesday, to hear the editor of the A Little, Aloud anthologies, Angela Macmillan, read from and discuss the new anthology for children?

Angie’s appearance at the store is part of the Lunchtime Classics series which has been running there since late April. Lunchtime Classics offers attendees the chance to hear free readings of classic stories and authors, followed by a short talk from literary experts from The University of Liverpool, and The Reader Organisation. All this, plus audience members will get 10% off all food and drink at the in-store Illy cafe during the event!

Texts and authors covered in the series already include such classics as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Edgar Allen Poe’s spooky story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and Charlotte Bronte’s novel Villette. In her session next week, Angie will be reading  and discussing  Tove Jansson’s story, ‘The Invisible Child’, which is featured in A Little, Aloud for Children.

Angie’s lunchtime session on Tuesday 19th June will begin at 12pm, and last for an hour. The event is open to all, no reservations necessary – it’s going to be a lovely events, so don’t miss out!

Featured Poem: The Song of Wandering Aengus, by W.B. Yeats

Today The Reader Organisation is marking the release of A Little, Aloud for Children, as well as the birthdays of one of the world’s best-loved poets, by featuring a poem by William Butler Yeats on its blog. ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ is included in the new anthology for children in the section entitled ‘Silver’, where it accompanies Berlie Doherty’s mystical story ‘The Girl of Silver Lake’ . Click here to read the blog post, and the poem.

Have you got your hands on a copy of A Little, Aloud for Children yet? If so, tell us what your favourite poem from the book is. You can leave any other comments you have about the book in the ‘Your Comments’ section of this site.

A Little, Aloud for Children: Tomorrow’s the day!

Yes, after months of hard work and much anticipation, A Little, Aloud for Children will officially hit shelves tomorrow, Thursday 7th June.

Edited by The Reader Organisation’s own Angela Macmillan, and with a foreword by Michael Morpurgo, this wonderful book brings together the very best of children’s literature – both old and new – into one exciting, beautiful, un-put-downable book, which has been published by David Fickling Books. To get your copy of  A Little, Aloud for Children simply order online on The Reader Organisation’s website. You will also be able to get the book from all good bookshops, and if you live in the Liverpool area, you will also be able to purchase the book at News From Nowhere on Bold Steet.

In addition to stocking the book, the lovely people at News From Nowhere are also giving over the whole of their shop’s front window to display it in all its glory. We have some truly beautiful and very creative artwork to feature in the window display, which was produced by local children in West Everton as part of a community project with West Everton Community Council and  The Reader Organisation. The window display will be at News From Nowhere from Saturday 9th – Wednesday 20th June, so be sure to pop down and have a look, before heading inside to pick-up the book!

Without giving too much away, once you have your copy of A Little Aloud for Children and are settling down to enjoy it, as you turn the pages you will discover a series of beautiful illustrations scattering the pages, bringing to life the pieces of literature collected in the book. These illustrations have been contributed by a number of individuals especially for the book. One of the contributors, professional artist and illustrator Bonnie Friend, was so inspired by her involvement in the book, that she has written a lovely blog post about it! In Bonnie’s blog, which you can read here, she talks about her experience of producing artwork to go alongside such classic children’s texts as Rudyard Kipling’s How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin and Michael Morpurgo’s story The Silver Swan, and how it brought back some wonderful memories of childhood reading for her.

There are going to be many more updates about the book to come in the next few weeks – including details of events over the Summer and general news about the journey of this exciting collection – so be sure to keep an eye on the blog. And don’t forget – we want to hear from you! After you get your copy of A Little, Aloudfor Children and begin delving into it, be sure to come back here and tell us what you think in the ‘Your Comments’ section. Tell us who you’ve been reading it with, where you’ve been reading it, or just what your favourite bits are.

We look forward to hearing from you …

A Little, Aloud for Children is almost here!

It has been a long time in the making but we are delighted to announce that A Little, Aloud for Children is almost here!

Following on from the great success that was A Little, Aloud, we are very pleased to present an anthology of poems and stories to read and share aloud, with all of the extracts chosen especially to read with children and young people by staff from The Reader Organisation and compiled and edited once more by Angela Macmillan.

There really is something within the book for children of all ages and backgrounds (and big kids can enjoy the selections too…) – from Dracula to The Jumblies, Moonfleet to the Moomins, Dickens to Roald Dahl, everyone will find something to read aloud and enjoy with parents, family members, carers and friends.

A Little, Aloud for Children will be available to buy from Thursday 7th June 2012, with all royalties being donated from the publisher, David Fickling Books, to The Reader Organisation. Copies are available to pre-order now. Keep your eyes on the A Little, Aloud blog for all the news and insights into A Little, Aloud for Children.

And once you’ve got your copy of the book, make sure you share your experiences of reading it aloud with us – we want to know where, when and who you read it with, what your favourite piece is and whether anything special happened when you read and shared the book aloud. Just click on the ‘Your Comments’ tab at the top of the page and leave your comments there – we can’t wait to read them!