A very special royal guest has returned to share some reading with us…
Last month Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall became patron of the Foundation Years Trust, a trust aimed at providing an early years intervention for children and families most at risk from the effects of poverty. The Reader Organisation works with Foundation Years Trust as part of the Birkenhead Foundation Years Project, supporting families through pregnancy to when children start full-time at school. Alongside other initiatives, we provide Read It Together groups for parents and children to enjoy stories together and develop a love of reading that will contribute towards a child’s learning and increased development.
As part of the recent Royal visit to Merseyside with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the Duchess made a visit to Manor Primary School in Birkenhead where initiatives from the Birkenhead Foundation Years Project are taking place. After a visit to the Bump-Start group, the Duchess spent time at our Read It Together group for parents, carers and children aged 0-5 at Manor Children’s Centre, along with Frank Field MP, Chair of Foundation Years Trust and Zoe Munby, Director of the Birkenhead Foundation Years Project.
The group has been running weekly every Thursday afternoon since September 2014, letting children discover reading with their parents and carers through story and rhyme sessions. As children spend time with play workers, adults get the time to read together for themselves in a relaxed space, encouraging reading to continue amongst the family.
Amanda Boston, our Reader in Residence at Birkenhead Foundation Years Project, led the group in reading Owl Babies by Martin Waddell along with some songs. Following the children’s group, the Duchess joined in the adjoining 10 minute session especially for the adult members to read and discuss One Another’s Light by Brian Patten. As an avid reader and supporter of literacy it was wonderful that the Duchess could take part in the shared reading experience.
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall visited the group, which is specifically for people living with dementia, at the reopening of Exeter Library. Alongside group members, the Duchess enjoyed some pieces of great literature as they were read aloud, proving to be a wonderful addition to the Royal tour of the South West.
The Reader Organisation has been working in libraries across the region as part of our work sharing literature with older people. Specifically we run a number of weekly shared reading groups especially for those living with dementia and other memory loss conditions which are aimed at stimulating memories, providing engagement and giving a space for older people to connect with literature they have loved from years past as well as discovering new material in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. There is a growing body of evidence regarding the positive effects of shared reading groups nationwide to the health and wellbeing of those living with dementia which indicates that not only do groups allow members to share thoughts, feelings and memories as they read but also aid in reducing social isolation through their communal setting. More information, including a download of the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems at the University of Liverpool (CRILS) research report on shared reading as an Intervention for Older People living with Dementia, can be found on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/what-we-do-and-why/older-people-dementia
The Duchess is known for being a literature lover and continues to work to promote the benefits of reading, especially amongst children and young people, and enjoyed reading throughout the day with the official reopening of Exeter Library which includes thousands of new books upon the shelves. As well as listening to the extracts as they were shared her Royal Highness also spoke to Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation’s South West Development Manager, about our work in the area and across the country.
Our first Royal member of the Reading Revolution – perhaps Her Majesty will also be taking part in a spot of shared reading before very long…?
The Reader Organisation currently runs shared reading projects across South West England, in Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. For more information see our website http://www.thereader.org.uk/where-we-work/south-west and to keep up with the latest from our South West team, make sure you follow them on Twitter: @TheReaderSW