At The Reader we’re constantly blown away by the personal stories our group members, volunteers and colleagues share with us. We’ve learned that you can never underestimate where your Shared Reading journey can take you, or where you can take Shared Reading! When Erin, our resident American returned stateside we knew it wouldn’t be the end of her Reader journey and we’re delighted to share her latest transatlantic update – Shared Reading hits Montana!
Good news for lovers everywhere – the latest addition to our A Little, Aloudseries is published today, with a distinctly romantic flavour just ahead of Valentine’s Day…
A Little Aloud with Lovebrings together some of the most popular works in the English language, celebrating love in all its forms: that heady first flush, the agony of heartbreak, joyful reunions, the love of a parent for a child… and what better way to share these beautiful pieces than to read them aloud, to that special someone? The anthology features both classic and contemporary selections to warm the heart, from Robert Browning to the Brontes, Shelley to Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats to W.H. Auden, bringing us right up to date with modern takes on love from authors such as Haruki Murakami,Margaret Atwood and David Constantine.
Delving into the passionately pink cover, you’ll find that the collection is divided up into sections so that there’s a poem or story to suit any occasion and reading partner. Read:
‘Our places by the fire place’ to a parent
‘My love is come to me’ to a partner
‘Most near, most dear’ to a child
‘A need to reach out sometimes’ to a friend.
What’s more, each section is paired with observations, questions and connections made by our Shared Reading group members from across the country, allowing readers to become part of a bigger discussion. Sometimes the insights are humorous, others speak of deeper emotions. All are entirely personal responses to reading literature about love, prompted only by the poems and stories themselves:
‘Her name was Ruth and I was mad about her for two years and never plucked up the courage to even speak to her,’ said a man in a nursing-home reading group.
Someone else wondered if the poet would still be passionate after twenty years of marriage. ‘Never mind the poems, she’ll be lucky then if she gets a bunch of garage flowers on their anniversary.’
Research has shown that being read to can help to make us healthier and happier, enriching our hearts as well as our minds, and A Little, Aloud with Love is bursting with literature to lift the spirits. Even better is the news that the publisher Chatto & Windus is donating all royalties from A Little, Aloud with Love to The Reader, so by buying a copy you’ll be supporting our work running Shared Reading groups across the UK – enough to give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
On Wednesday 24th July, many of our excellent volunteers from within the North West gathered together to enjoy a lovely summer’s day afternoon tea at the Lauries Centre in Birkenhead. Also present were many of the people they read with from residential care homes around the region. The event was a perfect opportunity for everyone to mingle outside their reading groups, enjoying sandwiches, cake, and of course, poetry!
The caterers at the Lauries Centre had done a great job of decorating the room in summer attire, each table adorned with a bright yellow sunflower and spring-coloured balloons. Cool jugs of
refreshing juice were served upon arrival, as well as cups of tea, and the volunteers and group members were able to settle themselves in and enjoy a nice catch up before the activities began.
Anna, our Volunteer Coordinator, gave everybody a warm welcome and kicked things off with a poem. Soon afterwards, the food was served, and the guests were able to enjoy a delightful array of adorably intricate cakes and sandwiches, complete with bowls of crisps and rich platters of delectable fruit (I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on the poetry!).
As everyone ate and talked together, various guests were invited to have a go reading some poetry out loud, bringing the bustling room to a momentary hush at regular intervals. This involved both the volunteers and the group members, and it was really wonderful to see how some of the older residents were keen to take their turn, delivering their chosen poem with enthusiasm and expression. This ongoing combination of good literature and good food made for happy brains and tummies, and naturally everybody was in high spirits.
As the tiers of food gradually got lighter, the guests were given some anthologies, including Emily Browning’s Romantic Poetry and, of course, our very own A Little, Aloud, Poems To Take Homeand Minted. The activity of shared reading continued as people volunteered themselves to read aloud from the front of the room. One poem was the famous The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear, which had everybody joining in in a great choral fashion!
If anything, the afternoon was a wonderful chance to see some of TRO’s volunteers out of their usual role and find out what they love about being a part of The Reader Organisation. Many of them spoke unhesitatingly about the joy and fulfillment they get from volunteering, and the increased insight and awareness it has brought into their lives.
Below are a few of our favourite quotes from the day.
I’ve had parts of my life that have been really bad. But I love life at the moment, and I just want to show other people that a book can bring you a lot of happiness.
Volunteers can tend to feel a bit isolated, but here that’s not the case. It’s impossible to feel isolated when you’re a part of The Reader Organisation.
Their faces light up when we walk in. They look forward to that hour. And when we leave, after being with a group, we feel great ourselves.
It’s been the best move we ever made. Its a marvellous organisation.
I like that when you leave the room, the whole atmosphere is usually very different to when you went in.
I particularly enjoy meeting people who I’d never have come across at any other time in my life. Spending time with them; learning about other sides of life that I knew nothing about.