The Reader join Radio City Talk’s Mental Health Marathon on Blue Monday

This Monday, The Reader will join Radio City’s Mental Health Marathon to challenge the stigma and get the city talking openly about mental health on Blue Monday, officially “the most depressing day of the year.”

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The Big Give Christmas Challenge Round Up!

Seven days. Three match-funders. 292 donors. £45,881 pounds raised to train and support volunteers to bring weekly Shared Reading groups to isolated older people across the UK.

Phew – What a week! At midday on Tuesday we wrapped up The Big Give Christmas Challenge after a huge seven-day campaign to raise funds for our work with socially isolated older people.

We were blown away by the generosity of our supporters right across the country, from Cornwall up to Aberdeenshire, and from Norfolk all the way across to Tyrone, 292 individuals gave a total of £21,369 in just seven days.

And thanks to the support of CHK Charities Ltd, Booker Prize winning translator Deborah Smith and an anonymous match-funder we had an incredible opportunity to double the impact of individual donations made during the week-long campaign, which when combined with gift aid raised a total of £45,881 to train and support volunteer Reader Leaders who will read with older people in care homes and community settings across the UK.

To everyone who donated, baked, knitted, raised money through book sales, tweeted, talked to radio DJs, friends, family, neighbours and strangers to spread the news – we’d like to say a huge Reader thank you!

We launched the Christmas Challenge on Tuesday 28 November with our wonderful Knit and Natter group at our headquarters in Calderstones Park, with an incredible donation of £1106 raised through the sale of their homemade wares at The Reader Gallery. We also welcomed Rhod Davies from the Charity Aid Foundation to a Shared Reading group to celebrate Giving Tuesday.

We were thrilled by the wonderful feature on Deborah Smith’s support for the campaign on The Bookseller, who said:

“Ever since I won the prize I’ve been agonising over what to do with the money, and when I heard about the work The Reader does I thought ‘I want that to happen in Doncaster’.

Literature has opened so many doors for me and growing up I felt like my real education came from reading books from my local library, so it’s really important to me to be able to give something back.

Reading has so many amazing benefits for mental and physical health, which is why the idea that you have to have money or a particular education to access it is so damaging and dangerous. Books should be for everybody – my life would have been completely different without them.”

Read the article in full.

Across the week our friends at Cheshire Farm’s Ice Cream Farm raised money to donate to The Big Give Christmas Challenge and at Reader HQ we held a week of exciting events, with the Giving Tuesday Book Giveaway, after-dark heritage tours with The Calder Stones by Candlelight, a Literary Bake Off and festive fun at The Reader’s Christmas Courtyard Fair.

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Feeling it: Reading the emotions of others


Discussions on literature and empathy continue to buzz around The Reader HQ following Obama’s sentiments on reading for empathy, our founder and director Jane Davis reflects on how literature can help us connect with others.

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Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt experience launches in Liverpool


We went on a bear hunt! And what a beautiful day it was!

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Tall Tales and Little Angels!

Staff from The Reader Organisation had a fantastic afternoon yesterday, hosting the event ‘Tall Tales for Little Children’ at BBC Radio Merseyside, which brought A Little, Aloud for Children to life for some local youngsters and their carers.

The event kicked-off with a brilliant reading of the ever-popular extract from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s hilarious novel Cosmic, by the equally popular Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Phillips.

TRO and ‘Uncle Roger’ get the fun started at the BBC Radio Merseyside studios yesterday, with some readings from ‘A Little, Aloud for Children’

 After a couple of delightful readings of poems from the anthology by TRO project workers, and with imaginations fired-up, it was time to get stuck-into some creative and crafty activities…

First-up was the chance to make and decorate some beautiful 3D angels, inspired by the poem ‘Angels’ by Jan Dean featured in the anthology.

Jessica proudly displays her fab-looking angel…
Sunny and his brother Noah showed us that angels aren’t just for girls, with their brilliant ‘boy angel’ and ‘bat angel’!

In the second activity, ‘Weird Words’, everybody got to be a poet for the afternoon: we penned our own very imaginative verses and stories using words taken from all of the poems featured in the anthology.

Creative hats firmly on, everyone is deep in concentration with their ‘Weird Words’

We ended the event by reading-out some of the more imaginative creations by our budding poets, and here’s  just a taste of what we came up with …

‘An Anaconda the size of a tower’?!! Yikes.

It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and everybody had a great time – so a big thank you to BBC Radio Merseyside and Up For Arts for inviting us to some along and giving us the space to run such a fun event.

Daisy (or is it Minnie?!) gets carried away with ‘A Little, Aloud for Children’ …

Tall Tales for Little Children

A Little, Aloud for Children has become a radio star in its own right over the past 2 weeks, as BBC Radio Merseyside has provided numerous slots on their airwaves for the book to make an appearance.

All of these guest appearances have been a part of the promotion for the event ‘Tall Tales for Little Children’, which The Reader Organisation is running in association with Up For Arts at the BBC Radio Merseyside studios.

Here are just two of our starring radio roles from the past week:

  1. Anna Fleming, a young person’s project worker, appears on Breakfast with Lee Bennion (at 1 hour 50 mins in), accompanied by Sophie and Ariadne – two of the young people from Merseyside she reads with every week.
  2. Myself and two of the Graphic Arts students from Liverpool John Moores University who provided illustrations for the book – Rheannon Ormond and Carolina Feng Chen – appeared on air yesterday for an interview with Roger Lyon on his early morning show (at 2 hours 25).

This Thursday, 30th August, TRO will take-over the performance space at the Hanover Street studio for a fantastic family-friendly event involving shared readings from A Little, Aloud for Children, and the chance to get involved in some creative, fun (and potentially messy!) crafts and activities. Tall Tales for Little Children will run from 2-4pm, and you can book a place by calling Radio Merseyside’s A-Team on 0151 794 0984.  All children attending must be between the ages of 6-10, and be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, get in touch with Charlotte:

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!