The Unforgotten Coat wins again!

German children's literature prize

Congratulations to award-winning author, patron and great friend of The Reader Organisation, Frank Cottrell Boyce, for winning the award for The Unforgotten Coat in the category of Children’s Book at this year’s German Children’s Literature Awards.

German unforgotten coatWe are very proud of Frank and The Unforgotten Coat as it was penned especially for The Reader Organisation and Our Read 2011. 50,000 free copies of the book were distributed across Merseyside, travelling around the UK and the rest of the world and enchanting readers of all ages with its humorous and touching tale of two brothers from Mongolia who have settled in Merseyside and made friends with a girl called Julie, only to be forced back to their home country. It has gone on to captivate judges on many award panels, winning Frank the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2012.

The German Children’s Literature Award is Germany’s only state-sponsored prize for works of fiction and has been awarded annually since 1956 by a jury of literature specialists and critics in four categories: picture book, children’s book, young adult book and non-fiction. In addition, since 2003 an independent young adult jury gives its own award. It is fantastic that Frank’s book

“written for fun, and for friendship’

has gone on to touch and inspire people around the world and be recognised for the wonderfully heart-warming work that it is.

Congratulations Frank and a huge thank you, once again, for the wonderful gift of The Unforgotten Coat.

Culture, Health and Wellbeing Conference 2013

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference, 24th-26th June, took place in Bristol this year and The Reader Organisation were very much a part of it.Culture, Health and Wellbeing conference

In his speech on day two, ‘Arts Health and Wellbeing: Personal reflections and political perspectives’, Lord Howarth of Newport championed the work of The Reader Organisation. From the offset, he remarks that

‘the marginalisation of the arts in the curriculum threatens to take our community backwards’

but that despite this, the arts remain very strong in our society and this is shown by art institutions all over the country creating their own health and wellbeing agendas. Lord Howarth used the work of The Reader Organisation as one of two examples of how the creative power of the arts make a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. His experience in two Get Into Reading groups, the first being in Brixton and the second Aqua House, a community drug and alcohol service in Chester, confirmed for him the effect great literature has on individuals within a supportive group setting. Both happened to be reading Shakespeare plays and Lord Howarth remarks,

‘The complexity of Shakespeare’s syntax, so far from being a barrier, with guidance of the facilitator, was gateway to an experience of beauty and a stimulus to emotion and insight.’

Lord HowarthLord Howarth goes on to introduce the evaluation of the work of The Reader Organisation, undertaken by CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems at the University of  Liverpool) and how he believes that the research will shed light on how it is that shared reading aloud of literature. Professor Philip Davis describes this as an

‘exploratory and meditative holding ground for human meaning’

benefits wellbeing. Our Literary Learning Manager, Casi Dylan, joined Professor Philip Davis and Dr Josie Billington from CRILS, at the conference to explain the function of the language of literature in:

  • providing models of thought-bearing feeling in human predicaments
  • offering a mode of creative, performative and participatory reading and group-interaction that is genuinely collaborative in the release of human creative powers
  • constituting an alternative to the overly prescriptive language of therapy

If you are interested in the research behind our hugely successful shared reading model, visit the Research page on our website. CRILS also featured in the news recently, in a Telegraph article entitled ‘Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain’

If you would like to watch Lord Howarth’s speech at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Conference 2013, click here and make sure you pay particular attention around the 47 minute mark, in which he explains the work of The Reader Organisation, his experience of attending two groups and the research of CRILS.

RISE in Reading


This beautiful, bright sunny day is a day to be in Reading, as poet and comedian John Hegley makes an appearance at the Reading Poetry Festival reading and discussing his work with parents and families.

Before this, John will join one of The Reader Organisation’s weekly Get Into Reading groups at HMP Reading to read from and talk about his poetry. Both of these events are part of our Reading in Secure Environments (RISE) project.

John Hegley has worked as a poet for over 30 years, producing poems that range from the surreal to the humourous. In 1998, his poem “Malcolm” came second in a BBC survey to find Britain’s most popular comic poem.  His talks on poetry are relatively rare, and always very interactive so today’s talk should be a cracker!

If you are interested in John Hegley’s talk and are close to the Institute of Education at 4.30pm, why not take a look at the Reading Poetry Festival website to book your free tickets for what promises to be a wonderful, interactive event for both adults and children.

The Reader is turning 50…

There is a mood of quiet, but excited anticipation in The Reader Organisation’s offices this month. Our magazine, The Reader, is turning the big 5-0 soon! How will we celebrate? By publishing a beautiful bumper edition of the Issue 50 cover online versionmagazine, jam-packed with brilliant literature from all of the friends we’ve made over the years and from some new friends who have recently joined us.

We’re going to let you into a few secrets to whet your appetite before the 50th issue hits doormats all over the country. Birthday highlights includes:

  • Poetry from Blake Morrison, Connie Benseley, Les Murray, and more.
  •  A selection from The Reader archive including Doris Lessing, Carol Rumens and Howard Jacobson.
  •  Two memoirs: David Constantine’s Where I’m From and Priscilla Gilman’s The Anti-Romantic Child.
  • Frank Cottrell Boyce writes with humour and candour of his part in creating the amazing Olympics opening ceremony with Danny Boyle.
  • Founder Jane Davis is interviewed on the origins of the magazine.

This issue proves to be an extra-special one but while you wait, why not head over to our website to discover and purchase past issues of The Reader, to read some of the wonderful pieces of literature that have been published in the magazine over the years.

If you’re already subscribed, you can expect Issue 50 of The Reader next month and if not, then what are you waiting for – subscribe to receive your copy today. 

The Reader is life changing and has an almost evangelical belief in the power of change through the act of reading or simply the power of pleasure through reading” – Lemn Sissay

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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