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World Book Night 2014

April 23, 2014

world book night 2014We’d like to wish all of our Readers a very Happy World Book Night! Once again, World Book Night is celebrating the importance of reading and books throughout the UK, in particular encouraging those who love to read on a regular basis to help reach out to those who don’t read as much as they might like to or perhaps have never read to discover a love of literature through the giving away of thousands of free books.

The Reader Organisation is delighted to be an World Book Night Edition Giver, and with the help of some Community Book Givers will be giving away special World Book Night Edition books from Calderstones Mansion House. City of Readers are celebrating World Book Night in a way that will help everyone get cosy with a book with their #readinaonesie campaign. It couldn’t be simpler – they just want to see pictures of you enjoying your favourite book in a onesie (or pyjamas, dressing gown or other lounge wear). Tweet your #readinaonesie pictures to @LivCityReaders or @Lit_Liverbird and find out more about getting involved in the campaign on the City of Readers blog.

Throughout the day, we’ve been asking our faithful Reader following on Twitter to share the titles of their all-time favourite books for World Book Night and the response has been brilliant, giving us even more reasons why books and reading make such a lasting impact and also ensuring that we have a reading list that’s growing even longer. You can share your own choices to help us mark World Book Night by tweeting us @thereaderorg or if you’re popping down to Calderstones Mansion House why not write your the title of your favourite choice down and we can use them to help line our bookshelves.

Our Readers’ World Book Night choices:

  • Jane Eyre and Villette - Charlotte Bronte
  • Burning in Water Drowning in Flame – Charles Bukowski
  • Gaudy Night – Dorothy Sayers
  • The Swish of The Curtain – Pamela Brown
  • Henry’s Leg – Ann Pilling
  • The War of Jenkins’ Ear and The Wreck of the Zanzibar – Michael Morpurgo
  • The Border Trilogy – Cormac McCarthy
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  • Love in the Sun – Leo Walmsley
  • Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Girl Reading – Katie Ward
  • The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  • Gilead and Home – Marilynne Robinson
  • Levels of Life – Julian Barnes
  • The Last Man – Mary Shelley
  • Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

See the official World Book Night 2014 list of editions here

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

April 23, 2014
The Globe on Tour's production of Much Ado About Nothing in Margate (c. Bronwen Sharp)

The Globe on Tour’s production of Much Ado About Nothing in Margate (c. Bronwen Sharp)

Today (Wednesday 23rd April) is quite the day for literature lovers – not only is it World Book Night but also the 450th birthday of English literature’s very own bard William Shakespeare.

The day is set to be heralded with much fanfare by fans of Shakespeare, currently enjoying a great cultural revival with actors such as David Tennant, Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston all lending their performances to Shakespeare’s words in the recent months. Last summer Liverpool enjoyed its own five-star performances of one of the Bard’s greatest tragedies, King Lear, as Shakespeare’s Globe brought its touring production to the newly-opened Garden Theatre at Calderstones Mansion House. In June we’ll be doing it all again as The Globe on Tour returns with their open-air production of Much Ado About Nothing. The production recently opened in Margate and Northumberland and if the brilliant pictures are anything to go by we’re certainly in for a treat. You can find all the information on how to buy your tickets for what promises to be five wonderful performances on our website:

The excitement is building for Much Ado as Michael Billington, theatre critic at The Guardian offers a lowdown on the best performances of the play as part of the birthday celebrations. Amongst the actors who have played the warring and immensely comical would-be lovers Beatrice and Benedick in the past read like a who’s who of theatre – Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Simon Russell Beale and perhaps most famously Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in the film production. Performances that Shakespeare himself would be proud of, and we know that The Globe’s touring cast will add to the wonderful portrayals.

The Globe on Tour's production of Much Ado About Nothing in Margate (c. Bronwen Sharp)

The Globe on Tour’s production of Much Ado About Nothing in Margate (c. Bronwen Sharp)

Here at The Reader Organisation, Shakespeare is one of our most loved authors and we use his work frequently, not only in our shared reading groups but in our courses and staff training too. Giving us much to the English language but also exploring emotions in a range of colourful ways, 450 years after his birth we’re able to identify so much of our own lives today through his words and creations. Several of his works, including Sonnet 29 (‘When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes’) appear in our anthologies, and you’ll often find something of Shakespeare lying around the office to give us a burst of inspiration.

This excerpt from Henry V is pinned up on the walls of TRO HQ, where we’re treating every day like St Crispian’s Day, and it’s with this that we toast Shakespeare on this very special anniversary:

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.


“Reading should be a big part of everybody’s life”: Better with a Book

April 22, 2014

At Better with a Book, The Reader Organisation’s National Conference, we’ll be exploring how the shared reading model pioneered by The Reader Organisation uses literature to improve mental health, stimulate emotional development, reduce social isolation and enhance quality of life. Throughout the day on Thursday 15th May in London, the practice of shared reading and its impact upon individuals, communities and organisations will be discussed in a range of illuminating sessions.

The shared reading movement is not only booming across the UK but has also travelled abroad thanks to our revolutionary training programme Read to Lead. We’ve made several visits over to Belgium to create shared reading practitioners who are furthering the Reading Revolution, and last month saw the launch of Het Lezercollectief (The Readers Collective), a cooperative network of readers  inspired by the work of The Reader Organisation.

Founder and Director of The Reader Organisation Jane Davis sent her good wishes across to Belgium, and in a specially made video Jane talks about why she feels that sharing reading and bringing literature out into the community is so vital. From her own experience of being powerfully moved and affected by literature to the extraordinary impact it is having on the lives of others – including people in isolation cells in Broadmoor Hospital – shared reading has come a long way since The Reader Organisation’s beginnings. And why does reading need to be shared aloud instead of in our heads to have such a significant effect? This question and more are answered by watching on…

Discover more about shared reading and how it works within health, education, criminal justice and community settings with Jane and guest speakers including Lord Melvyn Bragg and Baroness Estelle Morris, as well as some of our Readers and commissioners, at Better with a Book at The British Library Conference Centre in London on Thursday 15th May.

Full day delegate places (including VAT, lunch and refreshments) cost £140, and are available to book via our website, by cheque or invoice.

For more information or to inquire about the day, please contact Abigail Leader: or call 0151 207 7221.

Featured Poem: Easter Song by George Herbert

April 21, 2014

Happy Easter from The Reader Organisation! We hope that you’ve had a relaxing long weekend full of reading (and some chocolate too). Seeing as there’s still some free time for us all to enjoy, why not enjoy this special Easter themed poem from one of our favourites, George Herbert – the closing two lines seem to give particular pause for thought to take notice in the days that we have to ourselves.

If one poem just isn’t enough for you on this Bank Holiday, then delve into our Featured Poem archive where you’ll find four hundred selections of great poems to share – more than enough to see you through until the next holiday.

Easter Song

I got me flowers to strew Thy way,
I got me boughs off many a tree;
But Thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st Thy sweets along with Thee.

The sun arising in the East,
Though he give light and th’ East perfume,
If they should offer to contest
With Thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

George Herbert


What do you think? Reflection over the Bank Holiday

April 19, 2014

“The opportunity to discuss themes and points raised in the text and hearing other people’s take on things has enabled me to see other aspects I would not have discovered by myself.”

     – Group Member

Last week saw the start of Brian Nellist’s 6 week course ‘What Do You Think?’ which is being held at The Lauries Centre in Birkenhead. Readers have begun to explore stories where the ending is contradictory or unsettled, and doesn’t offer closure. Endings to stories like these often play on our mind long after we have read them, and start to make us reflect on our own surroundings and reality.

Have you had any moments of reflection over the Easter weekend? Perhaps you have been inspired over the bank holiday to delve into some classic literature you have always been meaning to read. Why not extend this interest by booking onto ‘What Do You Think?’ – it is not too late! Join Brian for our latest Short Course for Serious Readers and explore stories by Chekhov, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield and many more fantastic authors.

The course starts again on Monday 28th April and runs for 4 more weeks after that on the 12th and 19th May, and the 2nd and 9th of June. The sessions run on Monday mornings from 10.30 am – 12.30 pm, and all texts plus refreshments are provided.

Short Courses for Serious Readers are for anyone who loves shared reading and getting a grip on great literature with like-minded company. Led by some brilliant readers, thinkers and teachers, these courses enable you to take a break from life for a while to immerse yourself in great literature. Brian’s courses on a Monday morning will allow you to regularly join together with a group, reading and feeling good in turn.

Places on the course cost £45 ; £25 concessions.

For more information on ‘What Do You Think?’ visit our website. You can book your place by contacting Literary Learning Coordinator Jenny Kelly on or by calling 0151 207 7207.

More men giving up on reading

April 18, 2014

Man reading in a libraryA new survey has suggested that there is a gender divide when it comes to reading, with nearly two thirds of men admitting that they don’t read as much as they think they should.

In the study commissioned by The Reading Agency to mark World Book Night next week, 75% of male respondents said they prefer to watch a film or television adaptation of a book rather than reading it and almost half saying that they read fewer books now than they did in the past. What’s more, 30% of men questioned admitted that they hadn’t picked up a book to read since they were at school.

It seems that the reading gender gap starts early, as many teenage boys are less likely to read regularly for pleasure as opposed to girls – figures from The National Literacy Trust show that 35% of girls aged 8-16 read outside of school every day compared to 26% of boys the same age, despite the fact that reading for pleasure is found to have a significant effect on young people’s performance in school, cognitive and emotional development. Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman is leading the way in getting boys back into books and reading for pleasure:

At The Reader Organisation, we believe that great literature is a vital life tool to be enjoyed by everyone. Our shared reading groups around the UK engage many men in stories and poems on a weekly basis, and the relaxed, non-pressured environment of the groups mean that those who haven’t read a book in years can revisit literature, immersing themselves gradually over time.

One such example of a formerly reluctant male reader who has discovered the joy of books through shared reading is Colin, one of our Readers in Liverpool. A dad in his mid 40′s, Colin had never read a book from beginning to end before joining his shared reading group. Initially coming to take a break from the stresses and strains of family life, he was pleasantly surprised to discover more:

‘It’s good. I’ve never read like that before – I mean I’ve read aloud but I’ve never paid much attention to what I’ve been reading – you know thinking about the meaning of it and that. But this is good and we’ve got all that from this little story!’

068In our shared reading sessions in schools and one-to-ones with looked after children, we’re also encouraging a love of reading amongst boys, focusing on reading for pleasure with books that capture their imaginations:

At Better with a Book, The Reader Organisation’s National Conference, we’ll be exploring the impacts of shared reading on individuals and communities. We’ll be hearing from some of our male group members who will share their experiences of the impact reading literature has had on their lives, and also examining why reading for pleasure should have such significant effects on young people both in and out of school with speakers including Baroness Estelle Morris and Dr Alice Sullivan of the Institute for Education.

Another of our guest speakers is a passionate advocate of reading. Writer, author and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg will discuss his life as a reader at Better with a Book. Beforehand, he will appear at Poems That Make Grown Men Cry at the National Theatre on Tuesday 29th April, reading from a new anthology published in partnership with Amnesty International about poems that haunt and move a host of eminent men – sure to inspire more men to find literature that appeals to them and start reading more regularly.

Better with a Book takes place on Thursday 15th May at The British Library Conference Centre. Discover more about the relationship between literature, mental health, emotional development and enhanced quality of life. Full day delegate places cost £140 (including, VAT, lunch and refreshments) – book your place online or find out more about paying by cheque or invoice on our website.

For more information about Better with a Book or to make queries, please contact Abigail: or call 0151 207 7221.

Job Opportunity: Project Worker for Gloucestershire

April 17, 2014

The Reader Organisation can announce a new job opportunity for a Project Worker for Gloucestershire.

  • Hours: 14 hours per week
  • Duration: 12 month contract
  • Location: Gloucestershire
  • Salary: £15,000 – £17,000 per annum, pro rata (dependent upon experience)

A Project Worker is required to set up, establish and facilitate weekly shared reading groups in order to promote reading, wellbeing and good mental health. In addition, the Project Worker is expected to take an active role and interest in the core business of TRO which includes training others in shared reading techniques, communicating the work of TRO effectively, and fundraising.

The delivery of the reading groups will take place throughout varied settings including, but not limited to, acute inpatient settings and libraries/community centres.

This role could be for you if you:

  • Passionately believe in the value of reading
  • Are flexible
  • Want to make a difference
  • Do what it takes to get the job done
  • Can seize opportunities
  • Care about your work and your colleagues
  • Are committed to ongoing learning

How to apply:

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

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

We would encourage you to complete a covering letter. 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: 12pm, Friday 2nd May

NB: applications arriving after 12pm Friday 2nd May will not be considered.

We will contact successful applicants for interview by Wednesday 7th May.

Volume of applications may make replies to everyone impossible.

Interviews: Throughout May

Role begins: As soon as possible thereafter


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