Jane’s Blog: Later life, running and reading

A look back at a piece from our founder and director Jane Davis from earlier this year. We were delighted to welcome Parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt to Calderstones in March, Jane reflected on his visit on her blog, starting as always with the daily poem:

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Reading Groups, Communities & Libraries – An exploratory study

Published last month, the study explores the important role reading groups, such as Shared Reading, play in library and community services.

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The Reader 64

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Winter’s chill may not have the same bite as we might have expected but there’s plenty to chew on in the latest issue of The Reader.

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Valuing Workplace Well-being

 

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Inspired by her fellow speakers at the Wellbeing at Work conference in London last week, our founder and direction Jane Davis has been considering how Shared Reading can create better workplace well-being.

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Announcing an exciting new partnership with Oxford University Press

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We’re delighted to introduce our brand new partners, OUP!

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The Reader 63

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The weather is turning, the leaves are falling, Autumn is most certainly upon us and with a new season comes a new edition of The Reader Magazine. Introducing Issue 63.

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Jane Davis joins The Happy List 2015!

Jane Davis High ResWe’re feeling particularly happy today as Jane Davis, our Founder and Director, has made it onto the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List 2015!

The IoS Happy List was set up in 2008 to recognise and celebrate people who enrich the lives of others and make Britain a happier and more caring place to be. From charity fundraisers and founders to teachers, emergency service workers and community heroes, the Happy List features those who have made an extraordinary effort within their local communities and beyond for no personal gain, giving back to others instead. What makes the Happy List so special is that the nominations are made entirely by the public and readers of the Independent on Sunday.

As Founder of The Reader Organisation, Jane has pioneered the practice of shared reading as a way not only to experience the emotional power but also the sheer pleasure that comes from reading great literature aloud, together. From setting up the first ever shared reading group in Birkenhead in 2002, hundreds of groups now run across the UK reaching people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances.  The combination of the texts read, a relaxed and informal atmosphere and being in the company of others on a regular weekly basis – as well as the additional treats of tea and biscuits – make the groups beneficial to many of our members, giving a boost to wellbeing and confidence as well as fostering new friendships.

‘I don’t know what it is but after this group I always leave feeling better. It’s like a life tonic.’

‘Shared reading is like sitting around a fire and telling stories to each other – a way of binding us together.’

– shared reading group members

Jane Louise moneyShared reading brings many happy moments to our Readers each week, but what is it that makes Jane happy? Getting out and admiring the blooms around our HQ at Calderstones Park is near the top of the list, and earlier this week she was joined on one of her walks by Louise Jones, a long-time group member. Louise gave Jane the remarkable news that since Jane announced her goal to get fit and raise money for the Calderstones Mansion project she has saved up £1 a week to put towards the fund. Not only that, but she presented Jane with the money that she has generously saved. A wonderful gesture which will go towards giving future generations a happy, welcoming and vibrant place to call a home from home. There’s still time to be part of the last push – you can sponsor Jane’s efforts by visiting her fundraising page.

The Happy List 2015 is available in full in today’s Independent on Sunday, and online. All the chosen 100 Happy Listers will be invited to a celebratory reception hosted in their honour by luxury hotel group Grange Hotels in central London this summer, and there’s even more exciting news ahead as every individual featured on the Happy List will also receive the accolade of being put forward for special recognition at the JustGiving 2015 Awards.

For more ways to feel happy, visit the dedicated Happy List digital hub: http://www.independent.co.uk/happylist/ and see @happylist100. Remember, you can always pop into one of our open shared reading groups around the UK too: see the full, up-to-date list on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reading-with-us

Jane Davis becomes a UK Ashoka Fellow

The Reader Organisation Jane Davis 72 dpiCongratulations to Founder and Director of The Reader Organisation Jane Davis, who has been officially launched as a 2014 Ashoka Fellow. At an inspiring ceremony in London last week, Jane was welcomed into the Ashoka Fellowship network along with five other Fellows who are leading the way in making a personal drive to change the systems within which they work to solve social and environmental issues.

Ashoka is best-known as the leading global network of social entrepreneurs, existing to grow the impact that is made by social entrepreneurs and with the aim of getting closer to a world where everyone is a changemaker. There are currently more than 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in over 80 nations across five continents, with 56% of Fellows having so far effected a national public policy change. Each year hundreds of nominations for potential candidates are received by Ashoka, with elections made by the criteria of New Idea, Social Impact, Entrepreneuralism, Creativity and Ethical Fibre.

Ashoka LogoJane was handpicked to become one of the new UK Ashoka Fellows earlier this year, the first to be based in the North of the country. Jane was chosen for the pioneering practice of shared reading being a therapeutic tool which helps to tackle the problems of isolation and loneliness in an increasingly individualised society. Through the reading of great literature people are able to articulate their feelings and thoughts, improving wellbeing and building community.

Prior to her official launch, in September this year Jane was made the Ashoka Fellow of the Month; you can read Jane’s personal Story of Change on the Ashoka UK website, including how a novel by the late Doris Lessing transformed her view of the world overnight: http://uk.ashoka.org/spotlight-jane-davis

We’re incredibly proud of Jane to receive such an honour, increasing the effort of change that shared reading is making day by day on a national and potentially international scale. Congratulations to all the new Ashoka UK Fellows as we head into a new year filled with the great potential to make a change.

Take a look at the pictures from the Ashoka UK Fellows Induction ceremony on the Ashoka UK Facebook page and find out more about Ashoka on their Twitter: @AshokaUK

Reading for Pleasure with The Reader Organisation

There’s been quite some focus in the042 news recently about the wonderful activity of reading for pleasure, and worries about whether our children are doing enough of it.

A  research study funded by publishing group Egmont was reported by The Guardian to suggest that today’s parents’  increasingly busy lifestyles are preventing them from having the time to actually sit down and read to their children usually after the age of five. Meanwhile, teachers argue that due to the target-driven policies of education today, they do not get time to instil a genuine love of reading in the children they teach, and introduce them to a variety of books. This means that our younger generations are missing out on one of our greatest human pleasures, and no doubt growing up with an inhibited appreciation for language and its creative power.

In December 2012, The Reader Organisation held a Reading For Pleasure In Schools Day Conference, a successful event that focused on strategies to engage primary and infant school children in reading for pleasure. That means no testing, no grades, no pressure for the child…just pure, plain, enjoyment. Over 50 teachers and teaching assistants from across Merseyside were in attendance, along with special guest speakers Frank Cottrell Boyce and two representatives from Walker Books UK. It ended with a consultation session where teachers gave their opinions on what would enable them to turn their school into a ‘Reading Revolutionary School’.

Now, we’re focusing on secondary school pupils.  Our upcoming Reading For Pleasure in Secondary Schools Day Conference will be taking place next Monday 15th July at Liverpool Hope University, and we hope that you will join us. It is one thing to get068 primary school children to read, an age group whose imaginations are still fluid, excitable, and naturally curious. It is quite another to engage secondary school pupils, who are at a greater risk of losing connection with literature because of the mental space it demands, the time within their schedule it may require, and even perhaps a slight insecurity about whether reading is indeed a ‘cool’ thing to do. During this conference, The Reader Organisation will be exploring how exactly we can encourage adolescents to read more.

On the day you can expect a range of interactive and focused sessions, including participating in shared reading sessions based on TRO’s award-winning Get Into Reading programme, and learn more about how to encourage children to read for pleasure within and beyond the classroom.

Guest speaker Frank Cottrell Boyce, best-selling author, screenwriter and patron of TRO,  will be returning and answering your questions. Founding Director Jane Davis and Liverpool Hope University Reader In Residence Charlotte Weber will also be talking about The Reader Organisation’s work, and our partnership with the university.

This event is FREE of charge, and refreshments and lunch will be provided on the day.

To book your place, please contact the Liverpool Hope Partnership Team on partnershipoffice@hope.ac.uk or call 0151 291 3062