A Little, Aloud: The London Launch

Yesterday afternoon Jane and I left sunny Liverpool to head down to (a rather grey) London and meet up with Angie for the launch of A Little, Aloud in Waterstone’s, Piccadilly. Worried that no-one would turn up due to the tube strikes (I have poor luck when it comes to strikes interrupting my plans) and if we would even get across London in time ourselves, we were overjoyed to see the room filling up with plenty of friendly faces and some unknown ones.

Hosted by Jane, the event was full of warmth and energy and we were joined by the endearing and amusing Richard Briers, the elegant Joanna Trollope and our chief patron, Blake Morrison, all of them doing readings from the book, all of them brilliantly: Blake read Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ and Gillian Clarke’s ‘Miracle on St. David’s Day’, Joanna Trollope read Saki’s ‘The Lumber Room’, and Richard Briers read ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Angie spoke movingly about the genesis of the book – reading aloud with groups in care homes – and then read Keats’ ‘A Thing of Beauty’, beautiful itself.

A Little, Aloud is out in the world now, and we’re all incredibly proud.

You can order your copy here.

Joanna, Jane, Richard, Blake and Angie
Richard Briers reads 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'
Angie talks about how the book came about

Join The Reading Revolution!

If you’re looking for ways to get involved with The Reader Organisation and Get Into Reading, or you just want to find out more, here is what we have coming up in the next few months….

The Reader Organisation Showcases

Showcases are free, two-hour events in which you can meet The Reader Organisation face to face and gain a deeper understanding of what we do, how we do it, and, crucially, how you can get involved. It is your first step towards becoming a part of the Reading Revolution! More information can be found here. The next Showcases will be held on the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday 20th October 2010, 2pm-4pm: London
  • Monday 25th October 2010, 2pm – 4pm: Liverpool
  • Monday 15th November 2010, 2pm – 4pm: Birmingham 
  • Monday 29th November 2010, 2pm-4pm: London

A Little, Aloud: Masterclass with Angela Macmillan and Katie Clark
Wednesday 27th October 2010, 10.30am – 3.00pm, Liverpool
£40 including lunch, refreshments and a free copy of A Little, Aloud

Come along to this Masterclass and spend time reading in the company of Angela Macmillan, editor of our new anthology A Little, Aloud. After lunch, Katie Clark, TRO’s Dementia and Elderly Care Project Manager, will share her experiences of reading aloud with elderly people and those suffering from dementia, and explain how you can use A Little, Aloud to make a big difference to people’s lives.

Read to Lead Workshop
10th November 2010, Carlisle
£150 including lunch and refreshments

We’re coming to Carlisle on Wednesday 10th November to deliver a one-day Read to Lead Workshop. So, if you live or work in the area, this is your chance to experience Get Into Reading first-hand and link-up with others who want to get involved with our work.

Read to Lead Residential
21st – 26th November 2010, Burton Manor
£1,000 per trainee (also one concessionary place of £100)

Our Read to Lead Residential Training gives you all of the skills, inspiration and experience necessary to run shared reading groups based on our Get Into Reading model. Over a fun but intensive five days at the beautiful Burton Manor in Cheshire, we will give you the insider view on what makes Get Into Reading work.

Read to Lead Training: London
January & February 2011
£800 per trainee (also one concessionary place of £100)

Sign up to this non-residential version of our Read to Lead Training course in London and bring the power of great books to the lives of people who most need them. Over five day-long sessions, scheduled across five consecutive weeks, we will give you all the skills, inspiration and experience necessary to run your own groups based on Get Into Reading.

For more information about any of these events and courses, and how to book your place, please contact Mark Till, Training Officer, on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.


Thanks to A Little, Aloud, the word about reading aloud is spreading further and wider. Agebomb, a site published by Geraldine Bedel, is “an attempt to monitor the changing landscape brought about by population explosion” and, after hearing about the book, has visited one of our Get Into Reading groups and written about ‘The Joy of Reading Aloud’:

Until recently, though, it hadn’t occurred to me that reading aloud was a perfect pastime for older people. Listening to the written word in the company of others and discussing what you have heard is about as un-patronising an activity as you could find: democratic, shared, and exhilarating, allowing individuals to find meaning together, to make connections and uncover memories.

Read it in full.

Angela Macmillan on Open Book

Hear Angela Macmillan, the Editor of A Little, Aloud (published today!) – and also one of the editors of The Reader magazine – talking with Mariella Frostrup and Joanna Trollope on Radio 4’s ‘Open Book’ this afternoon at 4pm about the pleasure and benefits of reading aloud (or if you can’t wait, you can listen to the show’s original broadcast from Sunday on iPlayer right now).

“Being read to is the beguiling beginning of learning to love reading – it opens the door to absolutely everything and anything we might want to do in life.”
Joanna Trollope

A Little, Aloud: OUT NOW!

A Little, Aloud (ed. by Angela Macmillan) is available to buy online (from Amazon and Waterstone’s, plus others…), and in bookstores across the UK from today! We hope that the book brings you, and those that you read it aloud with, great enjoyment and treasured moments. Please leave us comments here on our blog telling your stories about who you’ve been reading it with and where – we’d love you to share those special moments with us.

Below are a few photographs from last night’s launch event in Waterstone’s Liverpool ONE. We were joined by Alan Yates (Chief Executive, Mersey Care NHS Trust) who spoke warmly and genuinely about the huge benefits of Get Into Reading both in the trust and for him personally, and Janet Suzman who read two poems from A Little, Aloud and told us how she is having the time of her life directing Antony and Cleopatra at Liverpool’s Playhouse theatre:

Angela Macmillan, Alan Yates, Janet Suzman (reading), Jane Davis (and some low evening sunlight!)
Angela Macmillan reading 'Friendship' from the book
It's really here... and flying off the shelves already!

A Little, Aloud Liverpool Launch: SOLD OUT!

The Liverpool launch for A Little, Aloud (edited by Angela Macmillan) has now SOLD OUT! If you weren’t able to get a ticket in time, there’s still a chance to catch the London launch with a panel discussion featuring Angela Macmillan, Jane Davis and our patron Blake Morrison, and readings by Richard Briers and Joanna Trollope: Waterstone’s Piccadilly, Monday 4th October at 6.30pm (call 020 7851 2400 to book your place).

For those of you attending on Wednesday, a reminder of the details:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 6:00PM

Join The Reader Organisation, Academy Award nominated Janet Suzman, and Alan Yates (CEO, Mersey Care NHS Trust) with some special guests in a evening of readings and discussions about reading aloud for health and wellbeing to launch A Little, Aloud.

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A Little, Aloud: an anthology of prose and poetry for reading aloud to someone you care for edited by Angela Macmillan with The Reader Organisation is published by Chatto & Windus on 30th September.

A Little, Aloud: Janet Suzman confirmed for Liverpool Launch

Janet Suzman reading from Great Expectations at the Penny Readings 2008

The magnificent, Academy Award nominated, Janet Suzman, who is currently directing Kim Cattrall in a much-anticipated production of Antony and Cleopatra at Liverpool Playhouse (opens 8th October), will be doing a special reading as part of the launch event for A Little, Aloud in Liverpool next week. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this one:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 6:00PM

Join The Reader Organisation, Janet Suzman and Alan Yates (CEO, Mersey Care NHS Trust) and some special guests in a evening of readings and discussions about reading aloud for health and wellbeing to launch A Little, Aloud.

World Alzheimer’s Day 2010

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and with the release of a new report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), there is a huge amount of news coverage about the condition. This is not surprising when taking into consideration the findings of this report, which include the following:

  • Dementia is significantly affecting every health and social care system in the world.
  • Dementia care costs around 1 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy (ranking between Turkey and Indonesia).
  • By 2030, worldwide societal costs will increase by 85 percent (a very conservative estimate considering only increases in the number of people with dementia).

You can read a summary of the report here: http://www.alz.org/documents/national/World_Alzheimer_Report_2010_Summary(1).pdf

ADI are calling for global action to address what the authors, Professor Anders Wimo and Professor Martin Prince are calling ‘the most significant health crises of the 21st century’. Professor Prince urged nations to develop better plans for caring for the millions who have the disease. “The care of people with dementia is not just a health issue – it is a massive social issue,” he said.

Actress Lynda Bellingham has been speaking out about her family’s experience of the disease. Five years ago she lost her adoptive mother, Ruth, to Alzheimer’s disease; only a year later she learnt that her birth mother, Marjorie, also has the condition. She has spoken about the way in which she noticed, following Ruth’s diagnosis in the late 90’s that no one talked about the Alzheimer’s.

 People are scared to death of even hearing the word dementia, but someone is diagnosed with it in the UK every three minutes…It affects at least 750,000 people and costs the economy £23 billion a year, twice the cost of cancer, three times the cost of heart disease. Yet in 2007-08, cancer research received £248.2 million, while dementia research received just £32.34 million. As a subject it’s just not sexy.


But surely with these latest findings things must change. It shouldn’t just be on one day a year that the news headlines draw attention to the millions living with this disease. If it is to be dealt with, there needs to be action. More money needs to be committed to research, to supporting carers who look after loved ones and to improving the quality of care that people living with Alzheimer’s receive.

At The Reader Organisation we are passionate about the positive effects that shared reading can have for those living with dementia. Over the last four years delivering Get Into Reading in dementia care homes we have seen firsthand the impact it has, with outcomes including improved communication skills, improved concentration and the ability to be calm in difficult situations. One care worker recently commented

I have seen the effect that it has on people; people that I didn’t think had that in them. It was a shock for me, I hadn’t heard them talking like that before, but the poems brought something out of them and you could see they were enjoying it, and they were all talking together and listening to one another. You don’t usually get that here.

Even more encouraging is the feedback we have had from residents themselves who talk about how poetry has had a positive effect on their mood or state of mind:

I like this…I like it because sometimes when I’m a bit lost I can’t think about it, but this helps me to go through and see it there and think.

Reading group member, Redholme Memory Care Home

In light of these outcomes, we have established a research partnership with the University of Liverpool and we are working to secure funding to further explore the benefits of reading to people living with dementia.

We are also delivering training for care home staff so that they can deliver GIR groups and one to one reading sessions with the people they work with and incorporate them into their practice, creating a sustainable model.

At the end of this month, our first book A Little, Aloud: An anthology of poetry and prose for reading aloud to someone you care for is being published. This is a selection of the very best prose and poetry chosen especially for reading aloud, all tried and tested by us and with lively reading notes and ideas based on actual discussions from our ‘Get Into Reading’ groups. Fiona Phillips, who has spoken out about caring for her parents, who both developed dementia, has commended the book saying

Reading aloud brings health and happiness: guaranteed! I urge you to buy this book, read the wonderful (and funny, surprising, thought-provoking) pieces collected here to someone you care for and see the results for yourself.

It is our hope that this book will provide inspiration for family members, friends and care staff to share some time reading aloud with someone they care for and talking together about what they read. It is a small but significant way in which we can all take action and brighten the day of someone living with dementia. It would be a wonderful thing, if by World Alzheimer’s Day 2011 we could see the positive impact being had in care homes across the country through shared reading.

To find out more/order your copy of A Little, Aloud click here...

All royalties in full go to The Reader Organisation.

A Little, Aloud: An anthology of prose and poetry for reading aloud to someone you care for

Published 30th September

The Reader Organisation has joined forces with Chatto & Windus to publish A Little, Aloud, a selection of the very best prose and poetry especially chosen for reading aloud – to your husband or wife, a sick parent or child, an elderly relative, to someone who finds it hard to concentrate for long or simply someone who will enjoy being read to. Through our work, we are discovering that reading aloud brings remarkable health and happiness benefits: it stimulates thought and memory, encourages the sharing of ideas and feelings, hopes and fears – enriching our lives and minds.

Angela Macmillan’s wonderful collection has something for everyone – from Shakespeare, Dickens, George Eliot and the Brontës, to Chekhov, Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing, Elizabeth Jennings, Saki, Anna Sewell and more – all tried and tested by us, and with lively reading notes and ideas based on actual discussions from our ‘Get Into Reading’ groups.

All royalties in full go to The Reader Organisation.

“Reading aloud is an activity that everyone can take part in. It sharpens the intellect, invigorates the imagination and enlarges the scope of human sympathy. If we all read aloud every day, the world would be a better place.” Philip Pullman

“I think this book is an incredible invention, and like all great inventions, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.’’ Maureen Lipman

“I read to stroke victims so know first-hand the power of good that reading aloud can do. This first-rate collection is a real treasure trove and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”  Richard Briers

“Being read to is the beguiling beginning of learning to love reading – it opens the door to absolutely everything and anything we might want to do in life.”
Joanna Trollope

A Little, Aloud is wonderful – a luscious, challenging enticement to read and hear and share the love of doing both.” Howard Jacobson

“Reading aloud is pleasure. Pure pleasure.” Stephen Fry

A perfect gift for Christmas – for you, or those you care for – buy here.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 6:00 PM

Join The Reader Organisation and some special guests in a evening of readings and discussions about reading aloud for health and wellbeing to launch A Little, Aloud in its home town.

Further details: call 0151 709 9820 (tickets are free) SOLD OUT

Monday, 4 October 2010, 6:30PM

An evening of readings and discussions about reading aloud for health and well-being to launch A Little, Aloud, with special guests Joanna Trollope, Blake Morrison and Richard Briers.

Further details: call 020 7851 2400 (tickets £3 (redeemable against purchase of the book on the night)

Angela Macmillan is co-editor of The Reader magazine, published quarterly.