A letter from Deborah, our recently departed Reading Resources Intern, who has shared her experiences with The Reader.
On Wednesday afternoon people from across the City descended on Blackburne House for the debut screening of the Give us 5 video. Produced by Jack-All Productions, the awe-inspiring film captures a glimpse of the power of reading for pleasure beautifully.
Over the past few weeks organisations and individuals have united with City of Readers to dedicate their time to the project; Blackburne House generously donated the venue and Brian Patten kindly allowed his poem to be read, as well as those who offered their time to be featured in the video.
Prior to the showing of the video, Director of City of Readers and our Founder and Director, Dr Jane Davis emphasised the importance of the work City of Readers do in their aim to make Liverpool the foremost reading city in the UK. Laura Lewis, one of our Schools Coordinators also shared heartwarming anecdotes detailing the impact reading has had on some of the children City of Readers work with.
Last term City of Readers reached 579 school children in 17 schools and conducted 372 reading sessions. In one school staff saw 75% of pupils with poor attendance improving attendance, with 88% of pupils more willing to independently choose to read. Another school said that 79% of reading scores had gone up over the Summer, with 17% staying the same. This is fantastic as most reading scores plummet when children are away from school.
The launch was an opportunity for people to learn about this worthy project, and to discover how they can get involved. City of Readers are delighted with the passion, dedication and enthusiasm shown by attendees to the launch. Amongst those who attended were representatives from Mersey Travel, Waterstones and Baltic Creative who all generously pledged to Give City of Readers 5 for reading.
Esteemed author Frank Cottrell Boyce has donated 5000 words to City of Readers. The final chapter will be read live at the forthcoming Penny Readings in December.
City of Readers urge everyone across Liverpool to get involved and Give us 5. So how can you pledge? Do you have 5 books that have been untouched in months? You could donate them to the City of Readers project. Or can you spare 5 minutes of your day and read to a loved one? For more ideas and details on how you can Give us 5, visit the City of Readers website here.
You can watch the Give us 5 by following this link or scrolling down to our blog post ‘Give City of Readers 5 and some exciting news at Calderstones’.
Before leaving The Reader Organisation last week, our most recent Market Research Intern Shauna Waterman went along to one of our long-running and regular shared reading groups at Blackburne House in Liverpool City Centre. Here she shares her experience of the group:
Blackburne House runs a weekly Get Into Reading group, where you’re surrounded by great company with a chance to read aloud and enjoy some great literature. I had the chance to get involved and see what they were reading.
Blackburne House is a successful and vibrant organisation that has grown from a centre of education for women therefore the group, run by volunteer Pat Otty, is a women’s only group. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, with tea, biscuits and even crackers with Philadelphia (I ate a lot of this). A small group at the moment, Pat explained that there are usually a few regulars that come and enjoy the literature. We started the group with a short poem called Somebody by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Pat pointed out that when we finished it we were all just smiling at the page trying to figure it out. As it was confusing at first we tried reading it again and this time had a lot to discuss and talked about how the poem wasn’t dated and how relevant it could still be today.
Somebody being a nobody,
Thinking to look like a somebody,
Said that he thought me a nobody: Good little somebody-nobody,
Had you not known me a somebody,
Would you have called me nobody?
-‘Somebody’ Alfred Lord Tennyson
This led us into the text that the group have been reading together, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. I’d never read the book before so Pat gave me the gist and told me it was set in the early 1900s and followed a man called Frank Owen who believes that the capitalist society he and his fellow workers are in is to cause of the poverty around them. It’s quite a large book and it has taken the group nearly a year to complete. With lots of political ideas throughout, the group stops often to discuss what they have just read. It was a very meaty book with lots to discuss. A part of it that stuck out for all of us was:
“In order that the men employed shall not have to work unpleasantly hard, and that their hours of labour may be as short as possible—at first, say, eight hours per day—and also to make sure that the greatest possible quantity of everything shall be produced, these factories and farms will be equipped with the most up-to-date and efficient labour-saving machinery.”
– Extract from ‘The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell
We thought about how today “labour-saving machinery” is a big part of our everyday lives e.g. self- check-out machines. We had a discussion and a good moan about how much easier it is to go to someone on a till and how the machines will have taken people out of a job. We talked about how people now live such busy lives that we have become far too impatient to even wait in line for to pay for our weekly shop. As a society we rely so much on technology that we forget that it often replaces human to human contact. It’s interesting that what Tressell wrote so many years ago can still ring true today.
The Blackburne House Get Into Reading group (women only) meets every Monday, 11am-12:30pm. So, come along for a cup of tea, a biscuit and good company. Take a break and immerse yourself in a good book.
Blackburne House can be found on the east side of Hope Street, Liverpool City Centre. Click here to access an online map and click here for directions to Blackburne House from Liverpool Lime Street station.