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Study shows Children who have strong reading skills ‘are more intelligent by their mid-teens’

July 24, 2014

Parklands credit Paul Cousans 2A recent study of identical twins by researchers at Edinburgh University and King’s College London has been able to show the positive effects on the intelligence of teenagers if encouraged to read as children.

Researchers tested nearly 2,000 pairs of identical twins and examined the results of reading and intelligence tests taken by the twins when they were aged seven, nine, 10, 12 and 16.

The scientists used a statistical model to test whether early differences in reading ability between pairs of twins were linked to later differences in their intelligence.

Because twins share all of their genes and grow up in the same home, researchers were able to pinpoint any differences ­attributable to experiences the twins did not share. These might include a particularly effective teacher, or a group of friends that encouraged reading.

Dr Stuart Ritchie, from ­Edinburgh University School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said: “Since reading is an ability that can be improved, our findings have implications for reading instruction.

“Early remediation of reading problems might aid not only the growth of literacy, but also more general cognitive abilities that are of critical importance across a person’s lifetime.”

Researchers found that early differences in reading were linked to later differences in a range of skills, including verbal intelligence and reasoning. This suggests that tackling ­problems with reading at an early age could have a range of benefits at a later stage.

This sounds like another great reason to join the Reading Revolution to us!

Find out more about the study from Herald Scotland

What is the secret of The Menlove Treasure?

July 22, 2014


Online serial (2)


The Reader Organisation is excited to announce the beginning of a very special story… 

As part of Liverpool City of Readers ‘Give Us 5’ campaign, award-winning author Frank Cottrall-Boyce is donating 5000 words in the form of a totally free online serial story.

Taking inspiration from authors such as Charles Dickens who released their stories a chapter at a time, Frank is releasing his story bit-by-bit. 

Chapter One is out today and tells us about Rylan, a young boy keeping a secret from the world, an eccentric old woman pretending to be his nan and the mysterious Park Mansion House where he is staying.

Each month a new chapter will appear online, cumulating in the last chapter being read aloud in December as part of the Penny Readings.

You can follow the adventures as they unfold online at:

You can also get involved yourself by tagging your Instagram pictures and videos, inspired by the story, to #MLTreasure where they will be posted on the City of Readers website.

Why is Rylan keeping a secret?  What tales will the old Mansion reveal?

And what is The Menlove Treasure?

Click the link to start the adventure. Chapter One –

Summer School Sizzlers and the Calderstones Summer Fair

July 22, 2014

piratechildSchool may nearly be out for summer, but there’s no need to be bored with our Summer School Sizzlers at Calderstones Mansion House where’s tons of super and sensational summer reading to keep kids entertained for hours afterwards.

Each Thursday morning from 31st July to 21st August, children aged 4-7 can join us for stories, crafts, games and lots of fun in four very special themed sessions designed to make the summer fly by. The full details of our Summer School Sizzlers sessions can be found below:

Gruffalo Tales – Thursday 31st July, 10-11.30am, Cost: £5 (book online)
Little monsters are invited to this especially monstrous reading session, where we will be enjoying all things Gruffalo, as well as sharing some fun rhymes and other stories.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Thursday 7th August, 10-11.30am, Cost: £7.50 (book online)
Join us in the Mansion House where we’ll be enjoying lots of shared reading with the All-Better Bears, Big Bear and Little Bear Stories and plenty of songs and rhymes.

Planets, Pants and Poop – Thursday 14th August, 10-11am, Cost: £5 (book online)
We’re heading skyward with this cosmic shared reading session, exploring stars, planets, aliens and underpants, even making our own rocket ships to take home!

Pirate Training Camp – Thursday 21st August, 10-11.30am, Cost: £5 (book online)
Join us for some special readings from our favourite pirate stories. Our pirates will be getting crafty, making hats, eye-patches…and there may be a treasure hunt or two.

We’re currently running an online competition for two free tickets to the Planets, Pants and Poop session on 14th August – all you need to do is head to our Twitter and Facebook pages and retweet or share the posts that are signposted to be entered into the prize draw. The draw will close for entries at 12pm on Friday 25th July and the winners will be announced at a later date.

DSC_0871Much more summer fun is in store with the second Calderstones Summer Fair on Sunday 3rd August, 10am-4pm. Join us for what will be a wonderful day spent in the garden of the Mansion House with something for the whole family and community to enjoy. We’re sure you’ll enjoy the amazing attractions that are in store, including:

  • BFG Giant Games
  • Crafts and plant stalls
  • Face painting
  • Our famous poetry photo booth with custom recitals
  • Live music
  • A fancy dress competition for children – come as your favourite character from a book!
  • Wishing Tree and Memory Wall to share your thoughts about the Mansion House
  • Tours of the Mansion House and updates on our future plans
  • £1 book stall
  • Tasty treats from The Reader Cafe to keep you going throughout the day

Kick start the summer in style with a visit to the Summer Fair at Calderstones, entry is completely FREE.

For more information on what’s coming up at The Reader Organisation, visit our Events page:

Featured Poem: The Dorchester Giant by Oliver Wendell Holmes

July 21, 2014

As the Giant Spectacular is coming back to Liverpool this week, commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War, this week’s Featured Poem is something of a tall story that comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, a physician and professor as well as having literary attributes. He was one of the Fireside Poets, said to have been the very first group of American poets to rival British poets for popularity in either country within the 19th century. If you’re going along to see the Giants this week, perhaps you can enjoy this verse beforehand.

The Dorchester Giant

There was a giant in time of old,
A mighty one was he;
He had a wife, but she was a scold,
So he kept her shut in his mammoth fold;
And he had children three.

It happened to be an election day,
And the giants were choosing a king;
The people were not democrats then,
They did not talk of the rights of men,
And all that sort of thing.

Then the giant took his children three,
And fastened them in the pen;
The children roared; quoth the giant, “Be still!”
And Dorchester Heights and Milton Hill
Rolled back the sound again.

Then he brought them a pudding stuffed with plums,
As big as the State-House dome;
Quoth he, “There’s something for you to eat;
So stop your mouths with your ‘lection treat,
And wait till your dad comes home.”

So the giant pulled him a chestnut stout,
And whittled the boughs away;
The boys and their mother set up a shout.
Said he, “You’re in, and you can’t get out,
Bellow as loud as you may.”

Off he went, and he growled a tune
As he strode the fields along
‘Tis said a buffalo fainted away,
And fell as cold as a lump of clay,
When he heard the giant’s song.

But whether the story’s true or not,
It isn’t for me to show;
There’s many a thing that’s twice as queer
In somebody’s lectures that we hear,
And those are true, you know.

. . . . . .

What are those lone ones doing now,
The wife and the children sad?
Oh, they are in a terrible rout,
Screaming, and throwing their pudding about,
Acting as they were mad.

They flung it over to Roxbury hills,
They flung it over the plain,
And all over Milton and Dorchester too
Great lumps of pudding the giants threw;
They tumbled as thick as rain.

. . . . .

Giant and mammoth have passed away,
For ages have floated by;
The suet is hard as a marrow-bone,
And every plum is turned to a stone,
But there the puddings lie.

And if, some pleasant afternoon,
You’ll ask me out to ride,
The whole of the story I will tell,
And you shall see where the puddings fell,
And pay for the punch beside.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

HRH Duchess of Cornwall joins the Reading Revolution

July 18, 2014
Dutchess of wales joins shared reading Group

Jennifer McDerra, South West Development Manager, Ciara Eastell, Head of Libraries, Culture and Heritage at Devon County Council, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Rose, Ivor and Rosemary enjoy the shared reading session. Photo credit: jenny steer at

One of The Reader Organisation’s regular shared reading groups in South West England got the royal seal of approval this week as a very special guest joined in for a session…

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall visited the group, which is specifically for people living with dementia, at the reopening of Exeter Library. Alongside group members, the Duchess enjoyed some pieces of great literature as they were read aloud, proving to be a wonderful addition to the Royal tour of the South West.

The Reader Organisation has been working in libraries across the region as part of our work sharing literature with older people. Specifically we run a number of weekly shared reading groups especially for those living with dementia and other memory loss conditions which are aimed at stimulating memories, providing engagement and giving a space for older people to connect with literature they have loved from years past as well as discovering new material in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. There is a growing body of evidence regarding the positive effects of shared reading groups nationwide to the health and wellbeing of those living with dementia which indicates that not only do groups allow members to share thoughts, feelings and memories as they read but also aid in reducing social isolation through their communal setting. More information, including a download of the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems at the University of Liverpool (CRILS) research report on shared reading as an Intervention for Older People living with Dementia, can be found on our website:

The Duchess is known for being a literature lover and continues to work to promote the benefits of reading, especially amongst children and young people, and enjoyed reading throughout the day with the official reopening of Exeter Library which includes thousands of new books upon the shelves. As well as listening to the extracts as they were shared her Royal Highness also spoke to Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation’s South West Development Manager, about our work in the area and across the country.

Our first Royal member of the Reading Revolution – perhaps Her Majesty will also be taking part in a spot of shared reading before very long…?

The Reader Organisation currently runs shared reading projects across South West England, in Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. For more information see our website and to keep up with the latest from our South West team, make sure you follow them on Twitter: @TheReaderSW

Job Opportunity: Building Caretaker, Calderstones

July 17, 2014

The Reader Organisation can announce a job vacancy for a Building Caretaker at Calderstones Mansion House.

  • Reporting to: IT and Facilities Manager
  • Salary: £7.65 per hour
  • Hours: 21 Hours per week, Saturday and two negotiable weekdays (8am-4pm)
  • Duration: Until March 2015 in the first instance with possibility of renewal
  • Location: Liverpool

This role will encompass a wide variety of general building maintenance repairs and services in keeping with the role of a building caretaker. This will include installing light bulbs, painting, repairs to floor coverings, repairs to walls, repairs to doors, repairs to windows or blinds, assembling furniture, and unblocking sinks and toilets.

It will also include supervision and liaison with service contractors, carrying out regular inspections of buildings, being responsible for security and health and safety, liaising with occupational tenants in the building and regular maintenance of all building services, amongst other responsibilities. You will also need to be an effective team member, participating in personal supervision, personal and professional development and team meetings, as well as taking part in TRO events.

How to apply

Please do not just send in a CV. We will only consider applications that adhere to the following process -

Visit and and click to Job Opportunities under the ‘Working With Us’ tab where you will be able to download a full job specification and an application form. Please complete the application form and submit a covering letter, explaining how you meet the requirements of this role, to

Your covering letter is an opportunity for you to include any additional information which could not be explained within the application form.

Deadline for applications: 5pm on Thursday 31st July

NB: applications arriving after 5pm will not be considered.

A high volume of applications may make replies to everyone impossible and the job will be closed early if the number of applications is deemed too high.

Interviews: Date to be advised.

Role begins: As soon as possible thereafter

Recommended Reads: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

July 16, 2014

midnightschildren1As you can imagine, we’re a veritable bunch of bookworms here at The Reader Organisation and in any one week you’ll find that members of our staff are reading everything from Austen to Markus Zusak, Hardy to Kazuo Ishiguro. Here on The Reader Online we’re always keen to provide you with great reads that you might not thought to have picked up before, and who better to ask than our well-versed staff?

You can peruse our archive of Recommended Reads by clicking here, and our latest comes from Rebecca Pollard, our current Arts Administration Intern who has a passion for the modern classic Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

It’s hard to describe Midnight’s Children without gushing about the colours, the emotions, the puns, the twists, the religions, the chutneys, the nose and knees, the knees and nose, or the bizarre, enchanting characters – but I’m going to try.

Midnight’s Children was on the reading list for one of my university modules, and we were told to start reading it straight away (even though we were beginning seminars about the book two months later). A feeling of dread rose through my body: I’d heard of Salman Rushdie – he was an ‘important’ author, and this novel had won the Booker Prize, the Booker of Bookers, and the Best of the Booker. Reading this novel was going to be hell: it was going to be the most difficult novel in the history of fiction (especially as, at this point, I had never read anything that could be even be loosely described as ‘postcolonial’). It obviously wasn’t hell… it was brilliant.

The novel itself is split into three books which are all narrated by the protagonist Saleem Sinai, who was born at the stroke of midnight on August 15th, 1947 – the moment India and Pakistan became independent nations. The first book focuses on Saleem’s family, and how Saleem came into being (because, after all, he states that he is the ‘the sum total of everything that went before me’). The second book follows Saleem’s childhood and his family’s relocation to Pakistan, and the third follows Saleem after he loses his memory and becomes ‘the Buddha’.

As he gets older, Saleem discovers he has telepathic powers, which he associates with his large, constantly dripping nose. His telepathy allows him not only to hear the thoughts of people close to him, but to create a space for the 1,000 other children who were born between 12am and 1am on the same night, and who too have powers. His story becomes intertwined with India’s story – as India develops, Saleem develops, when India is in crisis, Saleem too is in crisis.

Saleem’s narration might at first seem arduous and unnecessary, but his digressions and faulty memory are what makes the story absorbing, funny, and most of all human. It is through this warm narration that Rushdie is able to write about the harsh reality of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh during the 20th Century – the Indo-Pakistani wars, the State of Emergency, the bulldozing of the Jama Masjid slums, forced sterilization, and Bangladesh’s messy birth.

Finishing the book was a difficult process, it was as though the 1,001 stories in my head had suddenly gone silent, but as Saleem writes, ‘…silence, too, has an echo, hollower and longer-lasting than the reverberations of any sound.’

What I mean to say is: read this book, and if you’ve read this book, read it again. Read it for the rich language and imagery, read it for the magic and excitement, read it for the political storylines. Just read it.

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie, Vintage (25th anniversary edition; 2005)


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