The Reader 68

A new year, a new edition of The Reader magazine with a wealth of new thinking, fiction and poetry to delight, inspire and entertain.

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The Reader magazine: Autism, Shakespeare and soliloquies

In the latest issue of The Reader magazine, we hear again from Elizabeth Bonapace, a student at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford and mother and teacher to her autistic son, L. A year ago Elizabeth and L began a journey with Shakespeare, discover how it all started.

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Featured Poem: The Voice by Thomas Hardy

This week’s featured poem, The Voice by Thomas Hardy, has got thinking about reading aloud in Shared Reading groups, the importance of hearing the written word out loud in different voices.

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Featured Poem: When I heard the learn’d astronomer by Walt Whitman

This week our Featured Poem comes from the great American poet Walt Whitman, When I heard the learn’d astronomer.

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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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Featured Poem: December Stillness by Siegfried Sassoon

The last month of the year has arrived – perhaps unexpectedly for some, and for others much anticipated. Either way, we might all appreciate some December Stillness from Siegried Sassoon.

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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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Read to Lead: Three Christmas Challenge Volunteers start their Reader Journeys

As we countdown to the launch of The Reader’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, we’ve been catching up with three of the volunteers trained as a result of last year’s successful, award-winning campaign.

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Read of the Week: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

This week we say a fond farewell to our Reading Resources Intern Drew but before she heads off on the next big adventure she’s got a Read of the Week to share – The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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