Find a Christmas gift for all at The Reader


There’s no hiding from it anymore, Christmas is coming. But don’t panic, we’ve got bookish gifts all wrapped up!

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Featured Poem: To a Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses by John Keats


This week’s choice of Featured Poem comes from one of the great Romantic poets, and comes as an insight into his ordinary life – which is nonetheless incredibly evocative.

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4 things we learnt from A Little Aloud With Love


It’s been two months since the launch of our latest anthology A Little Aloud With Love but we’re still sharing the love because who says romance is just for Valentine’s Day?

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Get ready for World Read Aloud Day 2016

WRAD 2016 logoBy Robert Lyon, Communications Intern

Reading aloud holds so much value for individuals of all backgrounds and communities and so it is with great excitement that we look forward to World Read Aloud Day. On February 24th 2016 – that’s tomorrow – World Read Aloud Day calls attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. To read is to understand the thoughts and ideas of others; reading takes you away to another time and place and gives voice to the chaotic emotions of life.

“When reading, I could breathe.” – Former inpatient and Shared Reading group member

To read out loud is to take the words out of a book and bring them to life, making them resonate with readers on a personal and emotional level. World Read Aloud Day does something very special in seeking to encourage everyone to take the time to pick up a book, get reading and connect with themselves and others.

“Normally when I’m reading, I’m thinking about what I’m going to have for my tea! But reading aloud really helps you to concentrate and take it in.” – participant in a Shared Reading session

World Read Aloud Day is organised by LitWorld, a not for profit organisation that aims to promote global literacy and has had a lot of success doing it. With projects in places like the Philippines, Haiti and Africa they seek to give all children the ability to be a reader no matter their social or economic backgrounds. Their work in many ways reflects The Reader’s passion for literature and a desire to use it to help others.

One of our current projects that utilises reading aloud and encouraging it amongst a younger generation is the Off The Page project, commissioned by Liverpool Families Programme at Liverpool City Council.

“With a book it’s not like telly ‘cos it’s your imagination” – Charlie, 12 years old

Our Off The Page team are training volunteers to read one to one with 8 to 16 year olds for an hour a week, wherever possible in their own homes, taking a love of literature to disadvantaged young people across Liverpool. As well as reading one to one the project also hosts Family Fun days where Shared Reading is enjoyed with not only the children but the adults in their lives – be they parents, foster parents or workers. You can find out more about volunteering with Off The Page on our website.

Our new read-aloud anthology A Little, Aloud with Love - perfect to celebrate World Read Aloud Day!
Our new read-aloud anthology A Little, Aloud with Love – perfect to celebrate World Read Aloud Day!

Want to try reading aloud yourself? Here are some of our top tips for reading aloud from our dedicated Group Leaders:

  • Read silently to yourself first to familiarise yourself to the text
  • Practice reading aloud a couple of times to familiarise yourself with how you speak the text
  • Make eye contact with your audience every now and then
  • Mark your place with a finger so you don’t get lost!

Now have a go! Here’s something from our new anthology A Little, Aloud with Love to sink your teeth into and get reading aloud. Why not share the love of reading aloud with someone close this World Read Aloud Day?

To A Stranger

Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking,
(it comes to me, as of a dream,)

I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,

You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become
Not yours only, nor left my body mine only.

You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
Face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands,
In return,

I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you
When I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

Walt Whitman

A Little Love on Valentine’s Day

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

A Little Aloud With Love tpbHappy Valentine’s Day! Whatever your plans are with that special someone, or if you’re hoping to get the attention of the object of your affection, there’s always time for a little spot of reading amongst the chocolates and flowers…

Delve into A Little, Aloud with Love and you’ll find all kinds of literary illustrations on romance, all handily sectioned by theme for wherever you might find yourself in the world of loving encounters.

  • Feeling the first flush of love? Try ‘Love so sudden and so sweet’ with one of literature’s most-famed couples
  • Need some courage in winning the heart of the one your admire? Take advice from Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Campbell on being ‘So daring in love’ 
  • Taking a risk by declaring your Valentine? Have a look at ‘I know not if I sink or swim’ 
  • Perhaps the day has left you feeling dejected and a little in despair – know that you’re not alone by reading ‘Why do I love?’ 
  • Already loved-up and looking to the future? Skip along to ‘Hand in hand we’ll go’

And that’s just a small selection – there are tons more choices inside to take your fancy.

Of course love isn’t only to be celebrated for one day alone, so if you haven’t got your copy of A Little, Aloud with Love then you can snap one up and keep the loving feeling going throughout the year.




The most romantic lines in literature

The most romantic day of the year is just around the corner, and we’re definitely feeling loved-up as the Liverpool launch of A Little, Aloud with Love is taking place this evening at Waterstones Liverpool One with guests including the editor of all of our A Little, Aloud books Angela Macmillan and Gogglebox stars and one of Liverpool’s favourite couples June and Leon. A few tickets are still available and can be purchased on the door or by calling Waterstones Liverpool One on 0151 709 9820.

One of the most romantic lines in the English language is featured in Far From The Madding Crowd - and A Little, Aloud with Love!
One of the most romantic lines in the English language is featured in Far From The Madding Crowd – and A Little, Aloud with Love!

Our hearts have been thoroughly warmed by the results of a poll to find the most romantic line in the English language, carried out by the TV channel Drama. Quotes from not one, nor two but three classic novels made the Top 10 with lots of competition also coming from film and TV – and what’s even better is that extracts from two out of the three listed books are featured in A Little, Aloud with Love.

Topping the literary words of love at number 5 is Cathy’s declaration that Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” about Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.

Making number 8 in the poll isAnd at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be. And whenever I look up, there will be you” as said by Gabriel Oak to Bathsheba Everdene in Far From The Madding Crowd – and the very same quote appears in the extract from the book in A Little, Aloud with Love, no less!

Finally, rounding off the romantic utterances are Darcy’s immortal words to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: ‘In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Topping the list is ”My heart is, and always will be, yours” from the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Even though the line doesn’t appear in the book, as Sense and Sensibility is another of A Little, Aloud with Love‘s chosen texts we’re willing to bend the rules slightly…

The spellbinding ballroom scene between Natasha and Prince Andrei in War and Peace
The spellbinding ballroom scene between Natasha and Prince Andrei in War and Peace

Hearts have also been racing with BBC One’s adaptation of War and Peace, which has attracted millions of viewers and came to its conclusion on Sunday night. The twists and turns in romantic affairs amidst the backdrop of the 1812 French invasion of Russia have captivated audiences, with the ballroom scene between Natasha Rostova (as played by Lily James) and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (portrayed by James Norton) being one of the most memorable and spectacular moments. An extract following the famed scene of Natasha and Andrei’s first meeting is also featured in A Little, Aloud with Love, so for those of you having withdrawals of not yet brave enough to commit to the entirety of the novel, it’s the perfect place to begin – and what’s more it’s paired with a beautiful poem by Andrew Marvell, which is a definite bonus.

With all of these extracts combined packed into one book, we think we can safely say that the romance rating of A Little, Aloud with Love is very high indeed!


Featured Poem: First Love by John Clare

We’re in the mood for love here at The Reader, thanks to the publication of our new anthology A Little, Aloud with Love – the latest book in the A Little, Aloud series celebrating that special emotion and perhaps the most fêted subject in the history of English literature. Featuring a wealth of great writers from Shakespeare to Shelley, getting right up-to-date with authors including Haruki Murakami, Wendy Cope and Margaret Atwood, A Little, Aloud with Love celebrates love in all its forms and not only the romantic kind – though of course, there are plenty of poems and stories inside the book to woo or otherwise delight the object of your affection.

To celebrate the arrival of A Little, Aloud with Love – and that little-known lovers’ holiday called Valentine’s Day that is approaching at the end of the week – this week’s Featured Poem is a choice taken from the book itself by John Clare. Speaking about the first flushes of love and the effects it can bring, both physical and emotional, it’s bound to strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the euphoria and confusion of falling in love.

If this ode whets your appetite for more, A Little, Aloud with Love is now available to buy from our website and in stores.

First Love

I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?

My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love’s appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.

John Clare


For those of you in Liverpool, we’re launching A Little, Aloud with Love this week at a special event at Waterstones Liverpool One on Thursday 11th February from 6.30pm. Featuring live readings from the book and music designed to pluck at your heart strings, the evening will be hosted BBC Radio Merseyside’s Roger Phillips and also features Gogglebox stars and Liverpool lovebirds June and Leon.

Tickets for the A Little, Aloud with Love launch cost £3 and can be bought on the door or booked in advance by calling Waterstones Liverpool One on 0151 709 9820.

‘O tell me the truth about love…’: A Little, Aloud with Love hits the shelves

A Little Aloud With Love tpbGood news for lovers everywhere – the latest addition to our A Little, Aloud series is published today, with a distinctly romantic flavour just ahead of Valentine’s Day…

A Little Aloud with Love brings together some of the most popular works in the English language, celebrating love in all its forms: that heady first flush, the agony of heartbreak, joyful reunions, the love of a parent for a child… and what better way to share these beautiful pieces than to read them aloud, to that special someone? The anthology features both classic and contemporary selections to warm the heart, from Robert Browning to the Brontes, Shelley to Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats to W.H. Auden, bringing us right up to date with modern takes on love from authors such as Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and David Constantine.

Delving into the passionately pink cover, you’ll find that the collection is divided up into sections so that there’s a poem or story to suit any occasion and reading partner. Read:

  • ‘Our places by the fire place’ to a parent
  • ‘My love is come to me’ to a partner
  • ‘Most near, most dear’ to a child
  • ‘A need to reach out sometimes’ to a friend.

What’s more, each section is paired with observations, questions and connections made by our Shared Reading group members from across the country, allowing readers to become part of a bigger discussion. Sometimes the insights are humorous, others speak of deeper emotions. All are entirely personal responses to reading literature about love, prompted only by the poems and stories themselves:

‘Her name was Ruth and I was mad about her for two years and never plucked up the courage to even speak to her,’ said a man in a nursing-home reading group. 

Someone else wondered if the poet would still be passionate after twenty years of marriage. ‘Never mind the poems, she’ll be lucky then if she gets a bunch of garage flowers on their anniversary.’

Research has shown that being read to can help to make us healthier and happier, enriching our hearts as well as our minds, and A Little, Aloud with Love is bursting with literature to lift the spirits. Even better is the news that the publisher Chatto & Windus is donating all royalties from A Little, Aloud with Love to The Reader, so by buying a copy you’ll be supporting our work running Shared Reading groups across the UK – enough to give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling inside.