Getting Everton reading

From Laura Lewis, Family Project Worker, Everton

With our head office based in Everton in Liverpool, here at The Reader Organisation we love to offer as many opportunities for local people, whatever age, to enjoy our shared reading groups. There are a whole range of exciting story and song groups around Everton for you and your little one to try. All of our groups are free, so why not come along and join in? Sharing stories and rhymes with your child is one of the best ways to help them develop speech, imagination and creativity. It is also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your baby or toddler in a fun, friendly environment.

One of the recent reads enjoyed as part of Magical Story Time in Everton
One of the recent reads enjoyed as part of Magical Story Time in Everton

We currently run two groups for under fives and their parents and carers; older siblings are welcome too in the school holidays. There is

  • Magical Story Time at Everton Children’s Centre on a Tuesday morning, 10-11am,
  • and on a Friday morning you can celebrate the end of the week with Time for a Rhyme at Whitefield Primary School, 9-10am.

The Time for a Rhyme group is term time only, but you don’t have to have a child registered at the school to attend.

For the older children, we run a Family Story Time group at Breck Road Library, 3.30-4.30pm on Fridays. Children of any age can come along with parents or carers and enjoy games, colouring and a story; refreshments are also provided.

But before all of you grown ups feel left out, don’t worry! There are several free reading groups for you to come along to as well. Noveltea is at BNENC (Breckfield Road North) on a Tuesday, 12-1pm and Book Brunch runs at Breck Road Library at 10.30am-12pm every Friday.

Time for a Cuppa is our crafty reading group, every Thursday morning at Whitefield Primary, 9-10.30am. You don’t need to know anyone at the school, just come and join us for crochet (absolute beginners very welcome!), a story and a poem. All of our adult reading groups involve tea, biscuits and friendly faces. You don’t have to read aloud, but you can if you want. We read the book together in a relaxed environment and talk about the story; you don’t have to read anything in advance.

Please don’t miss out on these exciting groups in your local area; they’re free, fun and offer you the chance to meet other adults and parents. Also, remember to keep an eye on The Reader Organisation’s Twitter account (@thereaderorg) for details of special events in the area. I hope to see you all soon!

For more information call Laura Lewis on 07812 238 377 or email

Our Everton story time sessions for children under 5, their parents and carers run in association with LCVS and Thrive at Five. For all the information of our groups for children and young people, as well as our open groups in and around Everton, see the Reading With Us page on our website.

National Poetry Day 2013: Water, water everywhere…

national poerty day 2013It’s one of our favourite days here at The Reader OrganisationNational Poetry Day. Of course, we love to read and share poems every day of the year in our Get Into Reading groups, through The Reader magazine, our anthologies and much more, but we’re particularly excited to enjoy this nationwide celebration of poetry for everyone, everywhere.

This year’s National Poetry Day promises to be bigger than ever, with lots of exciting events taking poetry out onto the streets and even onto the London Underground – see a full list of events and find out if there’s something happening near you on the NPD website.

There’s no reason not to celebrate even if you aren’t near an event, as all you need to do is find a poem and read it aloud, passing the experience on to those around you. What better way could there be to commemorate National Poetry Day than by simply sharing a piece of poetry with someone you care about? This year’s theme for NPD is ‘water, water everywhere’ – a well-tread subject in the world of poetry. From lakes, streams and oceans, to boating, raindrops and sea creatures, there’s a wealth of classic and contemporary verses out there to help you get into the spirit of the day.

Here are just a few recommendations of water-themed poems that we’ve enjoyed here at The Reader Organisation:

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dover Beach – Matthew Arnold

Sea Fever – John Masefield

From The Wave – Thom Gunn

The Lake Isle of Innisfree – W.B. Yeats

Frozen – Alicia Stubbersfield

Cadenabbia – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dart – Alice Oswald

Ulysses – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free – William Wordsworth

And as an extra treat this National Poetry Day, we’re giving you another full-length helping of poetry on The Reader Online from Thomas Hardy. Enjoy the day, and have fun with some wonderful, watery poetry!

Under The Waterfall

Whenever I plunge my arm, like this,
In a basin of water, I never miss
The sweet sharp sense of a fugitive day
Fetched back from its thickening shroud of grey.
Hence the only prime
And real love-rhyme
That I know by heart,
And that leaves no smart,
Is the purl of a little valley fall
About three spans wide and two spans tall
Over a table of solid rock,
And into a scoop of the self-same block;
The purl of a runlet that never ceases
In stir of kingdoms, in wars, in peaces;
With a hollow boiling voice it speaks
And has spoken since hills were turf less peaks.

And why gives this the only prime
Idea to you of a real love-rhyme?
And why does plunging your arm in a bowl
Full of spring water; bring throbs to your soul?

Well, under the fall, in a crease of the stone,
Though precisely where none ever has known,
Jammed darkly, nothing to show how prized,
And by now with its smoothness opalized,
Is a drinking glass:
For, down that pass
My lover and I
Walked under a sky
Of blue with a leaf-wove awning of green,
In the burn of August, to paint the scene,
And we placed our basket of fruit and wine
By the runlet’s rim, where we sat to dine;
And when we had drunk from the glass together,
Arched by the oak-copse from the weather,
I held the vessel to rinse in the fall,
Where it slipped, and it sank, and was past recall,
Though we stooped and plumbed the little abyss
With long bared arms. There the glass still is.
And, as said, if I thrust my arm below
Cold water in a basin or bowl, a throe
From the past awakens a sense of that time,
And the glass we used, and the cascade’s rhyme.
The basin seems the pool, and its edge
The hard smooth face of the brook-side ledge,
And the leafy pattern of china-ware
The hanging plants that were bathing there.

By night, by day, when it shines or lours,
There lies intact that chalice of ours,
And its presence adds to the rhyme of love
Persistently sung by the fall above.
No lip has touched it since his and mine
In turns there from sipped lovers’ wine.

Thomas Hardy


Peter Robinson, Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading, has written a poem to mark the imminent closure of HMP Reading, one of our Criminal Justice settings for Get Into Reading. Released in time for National Poetry Day, Time for Time was composed after Peter visited the group at HMP Reading, the place that inspired Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

You can read Time for Time on the Two Rivers Press website, which is also offering 25% off all poetry titles this National Poetry Day.

Read more about our project at HMP Reading by visiting the South East page of our website.

Make Friends with a Book in North Wales

waleslogoIn October last year, The Reader Organisation received over £236,000 from Big Lottery Wales to take shared reading into the fourth corner of the UK. Our specially recruited North Wales team have been hard at work preparing and now we’re excited to say that the Reading Revolution is coming to life in North Wales.

Over the next three years, we’re developing a shared reading project across the region, establishing over 30 groups in a variety of settings throughout the community for people of all ages and in both English and Welsh. The Make Friends with a Book project begins in September with the first shared reading groups running weekly in libraries in Holywell, Llanberis, Llanrwst and Penrhyn. In the coming months there will be more groups set up across North Wales, so if you’re in the area keep your eyes peeled…

Cup of tea and a storyHowever, if you’re aged 11-13 and live in Bangor you don’t have to wait to start sharing reading as there’s a group running just for you each Monday afternoon, 4.45-6pm in Bangor Library. Round off your summer with some great stories – and once school is in again, the group keeps going so there’s no need to miss out.

The new Make Friends with a Book groups in North Wales are as follows:

  • Holywell Library, Flintshire – Mondays, 12-1.15pm from 2nd September 2013
  • Llanberis Library, Llanberis  – Mondays, 3-4.30pm (after school group for children aged 7-11) from 16th September 2013 (NB: This group will be through the medium of Welsh)
  • Llanrwst Library, Gwynedd – Mondays, 3.30-5pm from 16th September 2013
  • Penrhyn Bay Library, Penrhyn Bay – Thursdays, 10-11.30am from 19th September 2013
  • Rhyl Library, Rhyl – Thursdays, 1.30-3pm from 17th October 2013
  • Bangor Library – Mondays, 4.45-6pm (for children aged 11-13)

Our North Wales team will also be at this year’s Gladfest at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, running shared reading taster sessions for 6-10 year olds on Saturday 7th September at 11.30am and 1.30pm.

You can find out more about our project in North Wales on our website, and head to our Reading With Us group map for updates on community groups in the area.

Middlemarch with Brian Nellist

middlemarch-21Short Courses for Serious Readers: Middlemarch with Brian Nellist
Starts Monday 30th September 2013 for 10 weeks
10.30am-12.30pm, The Lauries Community Centre, Birkenhead

Has Middlemarch been on your must-read list for years? Want to give one of English literature’s finest classics a try but been put off by its length? Perhaps you’re a die-hard Eliot fan who would love the opportunity for a re-read…

No matter what your experience with the novel, get a new perspective on it by coming to our latest Short Course for Serious Readers this Autumn. Led by Brian Nellist, co-editor of The Reader and inspiration to Merseyside readers for many years, this special course offers the chance to read one of literature’s greatest sagas slowly, in the company of a congenial group of fellow readers. Over ten weeks you’ll get to enjoy Middlemarch alongside some specially chosen poems and short stories, and with Brian’s expert guidance dive deep into the best that literature can offer.

Sessions begin on Monday 30th September – the perfect way to get Autumn off to a Readerly start. The course costs £65 per 10 sessions or £35 for Get Into Reading members/students/pensioners/income support.

If you book on this and the accompanying Anna Karenina Short Course now, you’ll get a 10% discount on the price of both courses.

Texts, refreshments and good company will be provided!

To reserve your place on the Middlemarch Short Course for Serious Readers, contact Literary Learning Coordinator Sophie Johnson on or 0151 207 7207.

For information on all of our upcoming Courses, see our website.

Reading is a Picnic at Calderstones

G31A7051The Mansion House at Calderstones has become a hive of activity once more, with summer seeing it the place to be. Not only did we reopen the Garden Theatre after 30 years in spectacular style with two showstopping performances of King Lear by Shakespeare’s Globe earlier this week, but there’s also an exciting programme of events still to come including a grand Summer Fair at the end of this month with tons of fun to be had for the whole community.

The TRO presence would not be complete without a good dose of shared reading; we’re currently running several groups at the Mansion House each week, including weekly groups for children and young people. Every Saturday morning our Caldies Creatives take over, offering fun, games and crafts for 7-13 year olds and on Thursday afternoons it’s time to gather teddies and books for the Teddy Bears Picnic. With a few weeks of the summer holidays left – and hopefully lots more sunshine to come – both groups are perfect to keep the kids entertained, with plenty of space  in the park to run around and play after lots of reading.

Our Everton Family Project Worker Laura Lewis tells us more about what you’ll find if you go down to the woods – or rather, the Mansion House – and also about some of the other reading activities we have for children in Liverpool over the summer:

Attending a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Calderstones Park in the glorious sunshine is one of the many difficult tasks I have been asked to endure since starting at The Reader Organisation. OK, I admit it. I have an amazing job! Other activities I have attended or organised include a family fun day at Zap Play Centre in Everton, a pirate themed story time and craft session at Central Library, a picnic in Everton Nature Gardens with stories and songs and a Bookstart story time at St George’s Hall. I am also planning a Splash and Rhyme session at Everton Children’s Centre and looking forward to running story time sessions at the upcoming Out of the Blue Festival. I have even met such celebrities as Peppa Pig and the Bookstart bear herself, it’s all very glamorous.

The teddies at Calderstones love to read
The teddies at Calderstones love to read

Being a Family Project Worker in Everton, I love any excuse for a story time, especially one that involves songs and teddies! So of course I was thrilled when Ro invited me to attend her first Teddy Bears’ Picnic group at Calderstones. At The Reader Organisation we are always trying to think of fun and exciting ways to bring families together through a love of reading and imagination and we were thrilled when so many families joined us on our very first session and enjoyed themselves so much.

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Calderstones is run by the fantastic Ro, who is incredibly creative and shares my love of children’s books and songs. When the sun is shining the picnic takes place on the grass at the front of the Mansion House and if it is raining the group will be indoors, inside the Mansion House. Under fives are invited to bring along teddies, parents and carers for a fun-filled hour of stories and songs. Ro brings a selection of stories and the little ones can chose which to read, as well as which songs to sing (if we don’t have it on CD we’ll do our very best to sing it, no promises as to how in tune we will be though!).

As part of my role, I facilitate several under fives groups in Everton in association with Thrive at Five and every single one is so different; the little ones are so engaged in the stories and offer amazing insights and observations. One seven month old loves story time so much that every time he enters the storytelling area, he begins to bounce up and down, ready for a song! Story time is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your baby or toddler, whilst gaining an excuse to listen to a kids’ story and sing a few songs: who doesn’t love The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Hokey Cokey? Lots of parents have said to me that their children love story time so much that they insist on re-creating it at home!

We would love for you to come along and join in. Contact Ro to find out more about the latest activities in Calderstones on or if you would like to know any more about my story times sessions in Everton or be informed of any one-off events in Liverpool, please don’t hesitate to email me on . Also remember to keep an eye on TRO’s and Caldies Mansion Twitter accounts for all of our latest adventures!

Teddy Bear’s Picnic runs Thursdays, 1.30-2.30pm for children under 5, their parents and carers, and Caldies Creatives is on Saturdays, 10-11.30am for young people aged 7-13, both at Calderstones Mansion House.

Our Everton Magical Storytime sessions for children under 5, their parents and carers run in association with LCVS and Thrive at Five, with a new ‘Tales With Teddy’ group running each Wednesday afternoon, 1-2pm, at Mere Lane Health Centre. For all the information of our groups for children and young people, see the Reading With Us page on our website.

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.

M.A: Reading in Practice at University of Liverpool: Applications for 2013/2014 open

Interested in investigating the role of literature in Bibliotherapy and health? But don’t want to be suffocated by the confinements of a conventional academic course? 

MRL_5238-2 72dpiThen you might be interested in the M.A. degree course: Reading in Practice, run by the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems (CRILS) at The University of Liverpool.  The first Masters degree of its kind is preoccupied with the wider and deeper ways in which serious creative literature ‘finds’ people, emotionally and imaginatively, by offering living models and visions of human troubles and human possibilities.

Accompanied by a reading list which includes brilliant works of all kinds, from novels to essays on philosophy, you will be helped to develop the ability to use all literature as a form of personal time-travel and meditation. You will also learn how, in turn, you may re-create this process for others, through the formation of equivalent reading-groups based on The Reader Organisation’s ‘Get Into Reading’ model.

This course is perfect for those who don’t want to have to read loads of secondary criticism but want to use reading to enable them to think their thoughts better and find new ones. A  first degree in literature is not required:  you just have to be a lively, seriously committed reader!

Here’s what some of the past students have to say about their time on the M.A:

“The course often felt very hard and it should continue to do so. I feel bereft having finished, and wish I could do it over again”

“It’s such a personal course, where you have to bring so much of yourself”

“I feel that through my reading and writing on the MA I have consolidated some of the thoughts and feelings that have been floating in my head for years, finding the words to understand them.”

If any of this sounds interesting and you would like to find out a little more about the course details, the application process and who to contact, please read the M.A. document below, in which you will find out more, or visit the CRILS page of the University of Liverpool website.

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