Reading Around The World

Photo by George Henton/Al Jazeera
Photo by George Henton/Al Jazeera

Our Reading Revolution has started to go global, and it’s time to round off the week in reading with a couple of reading related stories from around the world.

In Turkey, a real Reading Revolution is emerging amidst scenes of unrest – the Taksim Square Book Club has formed, thanks to the example of the ‘Standing Man’ a.k.a. Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood silently, hands in pockets, for eight hours. People have taken this stance and merged it with the reading and informational activities active since the earliest days of the Taksim Square protests to adopt a new form of reading resistance. The book choices  – including Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell, Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Myth of Sisyphus by French author Albert Camus – reflect the feelings and attitudes of those protesting, coming as a great show of quiet contemplation coupled with social awareness and a desire to change.

Read more and see pictures from the Taksim Square Book Club on Book Patrol and Al Jazeera.

BiblioburroOver in Colombia, schoolteacher Luis Soriano has become a reading hero, along with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Together they make up the Biblioburro – a travelling library which brings books far and wide, into some of the poorest rural villages of the Magdalena Department. Biblioburro has been operating since 1990, when Luis was inspired to set it up after witnessing the power literature had on his students, many who had experienced conflict at an early age. Starting with 70 books, Biblioburro now has a selection of 4,200 titles, housed in a free library that Luis and his wife Diana built next to their home. Only three volumes have gone missing from Bibiloburro in all this time – and it continues to receive donations from all four corners of the world.

Find out more about Biblioburro – if you speak Spanish! – on the Biblioburro Facebook page.

Do you know of any other incredible literature projects from around the world? We’d love to hear about them – leave a comment, Tweet or Facebook us.

Remembering Richard Briers

By Angela Macmillan, Editor of A Little, Aloud

Before Chatto and Windus published A Little, Aloud in 2010, they put together a mini version and sent it to the great and good and influential in order to drum up support. The response was overwhelming but perhaps none so warm and spontaneous as that of Richard Briers who immediately telephoned a surprised and delighted editor at Chatto saying, “What can I do to help?”  What he did was to write a wonderfully warm encomium for the back cover, turn up on a June evening for the launch at Waterstones Piccadilly and give a spirited and heartfelt reading of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ to a delighted audience and as if that were not enough, give an interview to The Reader magazine (Issue 41) about his reading life and his work as patron of Interact Reading Services.

“I read to stroke victims so know first-hand the power of good that reading aloud can do. This first-rate collection is a real treasure trove and I can’t recommend it highly enough” Richard Briers

Richard Briers at the launch of A Little, Aloud
Richard Briers at the launch of A Little, Aloud

The many tributes have all described a thoroughly decent, generous, funny, enthusiastic and kind man. We found him to be all these things and remember him with affection. The Reader Organisation has good reason to be grateful to him.

Click here to listen to Richard reading The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Richard Briers with (l-r) Joanna Trollope, Jane Davis, Blake Morrison and Angela Macmillan
Richard Briers with (l-r) Joanna Trollope, Jane Davis, Blake Morrison and Angela Macmillan

Support the Santas!

From Niall Gibney, Community Development Apprentice

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Christmas. No, I’m not talking about our 9th (YES NINTH) Penny Readings. Erm, can you tell what it is yet? *Rolf Harris voice*

Now If you would have said something along the lines of “The Readers Santa Dash” I’d be on the phone to the fat man in the red suit to tell him how good you’ve been, but then again your behaviour is marked equally over the entire year. So if you’ve had a bad year: (ate too much cake, not made that phone call to that naggy relative, drunk way too much) then don’t worry I know the perfect remedy to win you those very important brownie points back from Mr Christopher Cringle!

Get behind our readings Santas by donating towards our apprenticeship cause!

Drumroll please for our red and blue clan…

Lizzie ‘Lionheart’ Cainblog photo
Dave ‘Gentleman’ Cookson
Ian ‘Quick’ Walker
Helen ‘Brave’ Wilson
Sophie ‘Blue Sledgehammer’ Povey
Ellen ‘Electric’ Perry
Chantel Baldry (from Essex)
Eamee ‘Blue Bulldozer’ Boden
Roisin ‘Zombie Destroyer’ Hyland
George ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins
Emma ‘Blue’ Gibbons
Niall ‘should have been blue’ Gibney
Lou ‘LoubyJo’ Jones

If the brownie points and warm mince pie feeling you get in your stomach aren’t enough to make you donate a fiver then please, please read this heart-warming story from Eamee, who tells you about the real reasons you should donate to our cause today:

Thanks and Happy Christmas!

The Reader 48 is here!

The final issue of The Reader magazine for 2012 has arrived and what a cracker it is, just in time for the festive season. Not only does it have a beautiful new cover, an original work titled ‘Aussie Outback’, by Cheshire artist Michael Troy, but it is packed with literary gems to last you through these cold months.

In Issue 48, you can enjoy:

  • US ‘soldier poet’ Brian Turner, author of ‘The Hurt Locker’, as the Poet on His Work
  • An extract from Howard Jacobson’s brand new novel, Zoo Time
  • ‘Imagining the Patient’, a thought provoking interview about literature and medicine with Iona Heath, the outgoing President of the Royal College of GPs
  • To mark its one year anniversary, Professor Philip Davis sets out a manifesto for the pioneering work carried out by the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems
  • New poetry from Andrew McNeillie, Chris Hardy, Emma Curran, Melissa Lee-Houghton and Sarah Lindon.

All this, on top of the usual great features from Brian Nellist, Angela Macmillan, and Casi Dylan, humour from Ian McMillan, and the diaries of The Reader Organisation, which includes ‘Poetic Justice: A Narrative of Belfast Breakthroughs’ from Patricia Canning.

If you are already a subscriber to the magazine, then your brand new issue should be arriving through your letterbox in the next couple of days. If not, why not?! You can take out a full year’s subscription, or purchase the single issue, on our website.

Have yourself a readerly Christmas!

Worlds of Wonder: An Olympic Evening with Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce

From Charlotte Weber, Liverpool Hope University Reader-in-Residence

Pandaemonium, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Jane Austen and Dickens – these were just some of the literary greats who appeared alongside

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce entertain the audience (c.Alan Edwards)

such contemporary icons as David Beckham, The Queen, Mr Bean and J.K. Rowling in Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce’s electric presentation in front of students and staff of Hope University yesterday evening.

The event, which was held in the University Chapel and hosted by The Reader Organisation and the Faculty of Education as part of the Hope Readers partnership project, involved the pair who were part of the creative team behind the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony discussing the literary influences on ‘the greatest show on earth’.

The Hope Readers project aims to inspire a future generation of primary school teachers with a deep and meaningful love of books and reading, which they will be able to pass-on to the children and young people they will go on to teach. The event yesterday was opened by Director of The Reader Organisation, Dr Jane Davis, who thanked the teachers and individuals who had inspired Danny and Frank when they were at school and who helped them to where they are now.

When asked about why he felt it was important to come and speak to the students at Hope, Danny commented,

Part of the privilege of our position is to be able to share our experience with people like the students at Liverpool Hope. Reading for pleasure is the fuel for everything and books, music and films are the creative platform to access the most amazing ideas.

Both Danny and Frank presented themselves to the audience as obsessive readers, with Danny referencing the controversial poet John Cooper Clark and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby as having had a massive influence on him.

The enthralled audience (c.Alan Edwards)

The pair were keen to showcase the books that had influenced their vision during the creation of the opening ceremony as well, and Frank read a section from Humphrey Jennings’ book that documents the Industrial Revolution, Pandaemonium. In fact the book, which Frank gave to Danny as a Christmas present one year, became such a huge inspiration on the ceremony, that the opening sequence, in which huge furnaces and chimneys rose from the ground of the Olympics stadium, was named after it. At the end of the talk, Frank passed a copy of the book that had been signed by both of them over to Jane Davis, to be used as part of the Hope Readers project.

During their conversation, Danny quoted C.S Lewis’ words, ‘We read to know that we are not alone’. Later, after he had read from Paul Farley’s hilarious poem, ‘A poem for the Queen’, which was used as inspiration for the sequence with James Bond and the Queen at Buckingham Palace and which refers to the Queen ‘waking up / in the blue silence of seven hundred rooms’, Danny said,

I would encourage the Queen to read. Because if there is anything that could tell her, when she wakes up in that massive house with seven hundred rooms, that she is not alone – it would be in a book!

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who scripted the opening ceremony and who is patron of The Reader Organisation and Professor of Reading at Hope, responded to a question from the audience about his feelings on being an inspiration to future generations by saying that it was simply a matter of ‘passing-on’ what you receive:

You can only give back what you are given, in one form or another: you feel impelled to pass-on what you love. And that is why teaching, and being an educator is a position of such massive privilege.

After the presentation had concluded, with a reading by Frank of his highly-acclaimed book The Unforgotten Coat, and several rounds of applause from the audience, both Frank and Danny headed over to the Eden building – the university’s Faculty of Education – for over an hour of meeting students and staff, photographs and book-signing.

There has been a massive buzz in the air at Hope about the event for the past two weeks, and it is even more palpable the day after. Both students and staff  agree that it has been one of the best moments at the university, and that it has inspired them and made them think differently about their role within Education. One PGCE Primary student commented:

The Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce talk was great. I’m really inspired to actually read some of the books I know I should read, but have never got round too! I’ll be passing my enthusiasm onto my primary school staff (and pupils) to get reading. What fantastic ideas, and people, to bring to the university! 

The signed copy of Pandaemonium will be on display in the Garden Room in the Education Faculty and Frank has promised to return to campus again very soon to celebrate the success of The Unforgotten Coat in being nominated for the Guardian children’s fiction prize.

Thanks to everyone who attended and made it such a special, lively and exciting event.

Danny and Frank spent over an hour signing books for all the students who attended (c. Alan Edwards)

Reading Heroes on the Radio

Our Reading Heroes, Louise Jones and Jane Davis, will be live on BBC Radio Merseyside‘s Drivetime show this evening. Tune in to 95.8 FM or on DAB shortly after 6.30pm to listen to Louise and Jane explain what it means to them to win this award (and visit Downing Street later in the week to collect them!) and find out how they were inspired to Get Into Reading. If you’re not local to Merseyside, or you don’t own a radio, you can listen online.

You’ll hear more about Louise and Jane’s visit to Downing Street next week…

Our Reading Heroes

A couple of weeks ago The Reader Organisation nominated two people for the National Year of Reading ‘Reading Heroes’ awards. One of these was our Director, Jane Davis (in the Professional category) and the other was Get Into Reading and Wirral Community Shakespeare member Louise Jones (in the Personal category). We are delighted to have been told that both of them have won Reading Hero awards!

Reading Hero, Louise Jones, at the GIR Get-together 2008
Reading Hero, Louise Jones, speaking about her reading experiences at the GIR Get-together 2008

The National Year of Reading wanted to acknowledge and celebrate twenty-five Reading Heroes as the year draws to a close. They were looking for people whose personal effort to support reading has made a difference to others, or whose acquisition of reading skills in challenging circumstances has transformed their own lives, or that of another. Jane and Louise are two of twenty-five people that will be heading to No. 10 Downing Street in February 2009 to meet with Sarah Brown and receive their Reading Hero medals.

You’ll be hearing more about this as the visit to Downing Street gets nearer. In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about how Louise has developed a passion for reading Shakespeare and transformed her life, or about Jane’s dedicated vision to bring about a Reading Revolution, then please contact us.