The Penny Readings Festival 2013: A very Readerly Christmas!

Penny Readings fest 1 online
c. Tim Murray

A Readerly Christmas came to St George’s Hall on Sunday with The Reader Organisation’s very first Penny Readings Festival! To celebrate 10 years of our annual festive extravaganza, we opened up the Great Hall to the public for a whole afternoon’s worth of free festive fun that began the season in style.

Our staff, volunteers from our Big Lottery project and stallholders offering an array of Christmas delights provided tons of seasonal activity and plenty of Christmas cheer to the crowds in anticipation of two sold out shows, the Hapenny and Penny Readings. Amongst the festive fun there was plenty of reading, with Christmas themed poems being read aloud in the grand surroundings, fun festive stories for children as well as puppet making and crafts, and the chance to learn some shared reading skills.

Festival goers pledged to Give Us 5 for Reading with the start of our new initiative to get Liverpool reading in 2014, as we opened up our video booth to let people share their favourite stories and poems with us. There was also a very busy Christmas cafe and Christmas presents galore with beautiful jewellery, art and craft, tons of books from TRO and News from Nowhere on sale, and a seasonal selection of cakes from Just For Kids Cakes – who also provided a specially made Christmassy cake as the star prize in the Festival raffle, drawn by Santa himself.

The Penny Readings Festival provided the backdrop to the much anticipated events of the day, which wowed the crowds. First up was our family-friendly fun-packed show the Ha’penny Readings – here’s Penny Readings Administrator Beth with some of the highlights:

Kids corner online
c. Tim Murray

TRO’s very own Patrick Fisher took the lead as MC for the afternoon and continued to impress when he and his comedy group, Sticky Floor took to the stage for ten minutes of improvised comedy – a clear favourite with both the children and adults! Readings were performed by Dave Cookson and Anna Fleming, two of The Reader Organisation’s Young People’s Project Workers, The High Sheriff of Merseyside reading Mr Toad, and Charlie Coyne reading an array of classics including William Blake’s Tyger. On top of this, 11 very brave children from Caldies Creatives, our Saturday morning group at Calderstones, took to the stage to read one of their favourite poems, Christmas Pudding by Charles Thomson.

Festive music came from Grace Farrington on the trumpet and young, talented musician Lewis who wowed with his violin skills when he played White Christmas and The Christmas Song. The final act Take A Hint Theatre Company received a wonderful response from the audience when they performed extracts from their innovative play, Tales that Time Forgot, which powerfully reminded us all how fantastic and important reading is.

The afternoon was then topped off by a visit from a very special guest…  Father Christmas, who kindly brought with him a brand new book for every child in the audience!

For its 10th year, the Penny Readings proved to be bigger and better than ever, delighting an audience that came from all over to enjoy the show. Events Assistant Abi gives us the lowdown:

The Penny Readings wowed again this year with the return of  last year’s showstoppers the Wirral Ukulele Orchestra. Frank Cottrell Boyce also made a reappearance with a reading he’d written just mere moments before he was due to take the stage, leaving the audience in fits of giggles. Another act to tap into the audience’s funny bone was comedic group Sticky Floor with their impromptu comedy.

Newcomer to The Reader Organisation Valetin Gerlier showed off his guitar and song writing skills whilst dance company RuShee got everybody dancing with their Bollywood Dhamaka. The Penny Readings also saw lovely readings from Angela Macmillan who read an extract from Nicholas Nickleby, Louise Jones and Marion Worth (two of The Reader Organisation’s Big Lottery Volunteers) read two poems and local poet Paul Farley read his own work.

christmas reading online 1
c. Tim Murray

As usual Phil Davis ended the night with an extract from A Christmas Carol and Wirral Ukulele Orchestra joined with the sensational i Choir led us out to a lovely rendition of ‘Lean on Me’.

The crowds came away brimming with festive cheer, if our tweets from the evening were anything to go by:

Had a wonderful evening at the #PennyReadings! A truly inspirational night of joy and Christmas cheer! Dickens would be proud!

Fantastic entertaining evening at the Penny Readings, I’d forgotten what a pleasure it is to be read to!

First time in #Liverpool for #pennyreadingsfestival @thereaderorg. Liverpool, I’m in love. Philip Davis FTW!

You can still tweet us your highlights from the amazing show by using the hashtag #PennyReadings

A huge thank you to all of our guests, performers, volunteers, our sponsors Publiship and Liverpool Learning Partnership and the audiences themselves for enjoying the extravganza with us. Here’s to next year!

The Penny Readings Festival: Festive fun for the family

penny reading festivalThe Penny Readings Festival 2013
Sunday 15th December, 1.30-5.30pm
Great Hall, St George’s Hall, Liverpool

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Penny Readings, The Reader Organisation is putting on its biggest event to date and hosting The Penny Readings Festival in St George’s Hall – and it’s this weekend! Join us for an afternoon full of festive reading and fun from 1.30-5.30pm, all completely FREE.

Our very first Penny Readings Festival will be a jam-packed afternoon, and we’ll be taking over the grand Great Hall with tons of Christmas activities, entertainment and much much more to get the whole family well and truly into the Christmas spirit. Take a little look at some of the things we have in store…

Christmas reading

  • Story Time – come along and listen to some stories for the young and young-at-heart in our Kids Corner
  • Experience shared reading with seasonal stories and poems read aloud by TRO staff
  • Try out shared reading aloud with our training taster sessions, run by our Big Lottery Volunteer team
  • Get some great tips on making reading fun with young people
  • Take on a starring role by reading us something aloud on video

There’ll be loads of chances to get creative and show us your artistic talents by designing a cover for your favourite book, make festive finger puppets and help decorate our Readers Christmas tree, as well as games and reading quizzes to keep you entertained and thinking.

The Christmas marketplace will give you the chance to finish off your Christmas shopping, with lots of brilliant books from News from Nowhere and The Reader Organisation, as well as beautiful and unique jewellery and crafts. You can find out more about what we do and our various projects, tuck into some yummy food at the Christmas cafe and satisfy your sweet tooth with Just for Kids Cakes. Plus there’ll be entertainment in store including the chance to get creative with the Wild Writers and enjoy some beautiful music from our Penny Readings guests the i Choir. And of course, no TRO event would be complete without a Reader Raffle with an array of wonderful prizes on offer, including gifts from Independent Liverpool.

Give us 5!

Along with Publiship, the Penny Readings Festival will be sponsored by Liverpool Learning Partnership who we’re joining forces with alongside Liverpool City Council to make 2014 Liverpool’s Year of Reading. Being a reader who reads for pleasure in and out of school is the most important factor affecting a child’s future chances, and so to make every child who leaves primary school a reader, we’re looking to build a City of Readers.

Our Give us 5 for Reading! campaign starts in February, but you can pledge to Give us 5 at The Penny Readings Festival, whether it be 5 minutes spent reading in our YouTube booth, 5 hours to be a City of Readers volunteer or 5 books to donate to our work with young people. Find out more about Give us 5 on the day.

Everyone is welcome to join us for The Penny Readings Festival, this Sunday from 1.30pm – start off your Christmas the Readerly way!

The Penny Readings Festival: Festive fun at the Ha’penny Readings

There are just four days and counting until The Penny Readings Festival arrives in St George’s Hall. We can’t wait for the festive fun to begin, and there’ll be lots of it in store to send levels of Christmas cheer soaring.

The Ha’penny Readings, our family-friendly festive extravaganza, will be returning for the fourth year at 2.30pm in the Concert Room this Sunday. Just like their older sibling the Penny Readings, the show is sold out, but there will be a live video-link for the Ha’penny Readings on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once again, there’s a packed line-up of reading, comedy and music for the whole family to enjoy. Amongst the very special guests on the bill are the High Sheriff of Merseyside, the Take a Hint Theatre Company showcasing highlights from their reading for pleasure play ‘Tales that Time Forgot’, wacky comic fun from Sticky Floor and tons of Christmassy reading from some of our finest young readers, including a suitable seasonal performance from Caldies Creatives.

Plus there’ll be special early Christmas presents with books for all attendees from Vintage Children’s Classics and Royden Revolve Rotary Club – and an appearance from the biggest VIP of all…

If you’ve got your tickets for the show, why not come along early to enjoy our absolutely free Penny Readings Festival? There’ll be reading for the whole family, stalls, refreshments and a whole load of fun to be had, all starting from an hour before the Ha’penny Readings at 1.30pm.

We can’t wait to see you there!

The Penny Readings Festival: Local Talent tops the Bill

Frank and Jane 72 dpiExcitement has been in the air for weeks, and now there are just days until St George’s Hall will be taken over by a festive extravaganza as The Penny Readings Festival takes place!

The Reader Organisation will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our seasonal event by holding a free public Christmas festival from 1.30pm-5.30pm this Sunday, 15th December. There’ll be tons of things for the whole family to do all afternoon, including shared reading activity for children and adults, festive entertainment, craft stalls, a Christmas cafe and lots more. Come along and spend an afternoon getting into the Christmas spirit completely for free in the Great Hall.

All this festive fun is ahead of the main events, the Penny and Ha’penny Readings, sponsored by Publiship and Liverpool Learning Partnership. The 10th Penny Readings at 6.30pm in the Concert Room is completely sold out after another hugely successful public raffle took place at the end of last month. If you were lucky enough to be drawn out of Santa’s hat, you can look forward to an evening full of festive reading and entertainment, including:

There’s all this alongside the famous Reader raffle, with the opportunity to win some wonderful Christmas goodies from the likes of Waterstones Bold Street, Serious Readers, John Lewis Liverpool and Royal Court Theatre. The Christmas season will start in true Reader style in a jam-packed event that Charles Dickens himself would surely be proud of.

Keep your eyes on The Reader Online over the next few days for more on the events and the special free Penny Readings Festival. Got your ticket? Share your excitement with us on Twitter, using the hashtag #PennyReadings

Get ready for The Penny Readings Festival

santa2The Penny Readings Festival
Great Hall, St George’s Hall
Sunday 15th December, from 1.30pm

There’s not long to go until the biggest day of The Reader Organisation’s festive celebrations and as previously announced, this year will be more of an extravaganza than ever before as for the first time we’ll be holding a special seasonal Penny Readings Festival to accompany the ticketed events.

We’re having problems with our emails at the moment, so you still might hear if you’ve struck lucky and won tickets to the Penny or Ha’penny Readings, but whatever the case, you can still join in the fun by coming along to The Penny Readings Festival, running from 1.30pm on Sunday 15th December. Entry to the Festival is completely FREE, with no tickets required, and there will be tons of fun reading-related and Christmassy activities to take part in right through the afternoon.

The Penny Readings Festival will feature lots of reading activities, including story time for children and shared reading taster sessions for adults, as well as games and activities, a cafe, and a chance to get creative. Come along to the magnificent St George’s Hall to find out more about The Reader Organisation and Calderstones Mansion House, finish off your Christmas shopping, and enjoy an afternoon of free festive entertainment. You can also bring along any spare books you have lying around the house to donate to our outreach work, as well as pick up some new ones.  

The Penny Readings Festival is free and open to the public – start your Christmas the Reader way!