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News from Nellibobs…

September 19, 2014

Nellibobs – a.k.a. Brian Nellist – is a busy man. When he’s not co-editing The Reader magazine, musing over the latest edition of Gardeners’ World, walking his beagle Argy or just making his way through a wealth of reading material, he can be found on YouTube with his special Friday Night Nellibobs videos, where he can be found pondering some of the greatest pieces of literature known to man (and indeed, woman).

If you’re an avid fan of the Godfather of The Reader Organisation, you’re in luck as he is about to host his latest Short Course for Serious Readers in Birkenhead. Far Places will embark on a journey of discovery through classic and contemporary literature to celebrate wanderlust as well as a sense of rootedness.

Far Places (Part 1) begins on Monday 29th September and runs every Monday from 10.30am-12.30pm at The Lauries Community Centre. The first part will focus especially on Homer’s Odyssey. Part 2 will be taking place in January 2015, discovering yet more great literature from authors including Shakespeare, Johnson, Graham Greene and Doris Lessing. Places on the course cost £65/£35 concessions (retired/student/unemployed/shared reading group member)there’s a special 10% discount available if you sign up for both September and January courses at the same time.

For more information and to book your place on Far Places with Brian Nellist, contact Jenny: or call 0151 207 7207. Details of all our upcoming courses can also be found on our website:

And as a special treat, here’s the latest edition of Friday Night with Nellibobs – here you’ll find Brian discussing two poems by Edward Thomas:


Job Opportunity: Building Caretaker

September 18, 2014

As we get ready to move our Head Office to Calderstones Mansion House, The Reader Organisation can announce a new job vacancy for a Building Caretaker.

  • Based at: Calderstones Mansion House, Liverpool
  • Reporting to: IT and Facilities Manager
    Salary: £7.65 per hour
  • Hours: 21 Hours per week, 3 days negotiable
  • Duration: Until March 2015 in the first instance with possibility of renewal

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 designated by the line manager.

A full job description can be downloaded on our website.

How to Apply

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

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

Deadline for applications: 5pm on Tuesday 30th September

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

Please do not reapply if you have previously applied for this role.

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.

If you require any further information about this role or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0151 207 7207 or email

Interviews: Thursday 9th October

Role begins: As soon as possible thereafter



‘It gives me a sense of worth again’ – A’s Reader Story

September 17, 2014

At The Reader Organisation, we’re opening up the wealth of emotional experience contained in great literature to people regardless of which life situation they currently find themselves in. Our weekly read-aloud, shared reading groups operate around the country in a variety of settings, connecting people closer to books, stories and poems – and one another – with often very profound results.

Recently we received some feedback from one of our Readers attending a group in HMP Frankland, Durham, about their experience of shared reading.

A had been a keen reader, but found that with nobody to talk with about the things that he was reading that his enjoyment decreased. The act of reading, and rediscovering reading, was vital for A to maintain a sense of normal perspective about himself – something that he identifies as being hard to hold onto while in prison – and reconnect to a more positive mental outlook.

Saying that he was ‘struggling’ with life, A describes attending the shared reading group at the prison as being like ‘a cool drink of water on a hot day seemingly without end’. Though recognising the benefits of reading on an individual level, shared reading within a group appears to make a particular difference:

“If reading by oneself in isolation is inherently edifying, and I believe it to be so, then how much more so when you read with others of a like mind? The connections and insights of a shared reading group are endless and some of those most in need of new connections and insights are prisoners. I myself have actually become more tolerant of people and value their opinions far more than I used to as I am constantly amazed by the depth of those insights which frequently resonate with me deeply.”
The group has read a wide range of literature, from Silas Marner to Frankenstein, with A taking particular hold of the emotional depth of such works: “[I] have learnt more of what it is to be a human being.” Since attending the group, A says that his skills of expression have improved, as well as his confidence, which had been lacking for the majority of his life.
And yet it is not just within himself that A sees the most benefit – the experience of reading and discussing great literature has had an impact on others too:
“I have seen my friends reading and then writing poetry in their own time who before attending the group had not the faintest idea about it nor the inclination to find out.
It connects us, prisoners, lifers in a high security prison, with the beauty that we always suspected was beneath the concrete and razor wire or dimly remembered in another life. “
You can read A’s powerful Reader Story in full on our website:,-hmp-frankland
Shared reading projects in the Criminal Justice sector offers opportunities for self-reflection and attitudes to be transformed, and can assist in reducing reoffending. Discover more, including our work in the North East, on our website:

Featured Poem: On A Drop of Dew by Andrew Marvell

September 15, 2014

This week’s Featured Poem is perfect to consider on these crisp and chillier mornings, when you’re likely to find more than just one drop of dew on the grass. Andrew Marvell wrote in the 17th century, and as a metaphysical poet concerned with a new expression and freedom at the time, found himself in good company with other poets including John Donne and George Herbert. Perhaps his most famous poem is To My Coy Mistress, and many of his works were not published until after his death. He has gone onto receive praise from more contemporary poets, including T.S. Eliot who described him as having ‘a tough reasonableness beneath the slight lyric grace’.

We’re hoping that it’s just dew you’ll find on the ground this Monday morning, but whatever the weather this poem will give you lots to ponder.

On A Drop of Dew

See how the orient dew,
Shed from the bosom of the morn
   Into the blowing roses,
Yet careless of its mansion new,
For the clear region where ’twas born
   Round in itself incloses:
   And in its little globe’s extent,
Frames as it can its native element.
   How it the purple flow’r does slight,
      Scarce touching where it lies,
   But gazing back upon the skies,
      Shines with a mournful light,
         Like its own tear,
Because so long divided from the sphere.
   Restless it rolls and unsecure,
      Trembling lest it grow impure,
   Till the warm sun pity its pain,
And to the skies exhale it back again.
      So the soul, that drop, that ray
Of the clear fountain of eternal day,
Could it within the human flow’r be seen,
      Remembering still its former height,
      Shuns the sweet leaves and blossoms green,
      And recollecting its own light,
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express
The greater heaven in an heaven less.
      In how coy a figure wound,
      Every way it turns away:
      So the world excluding round,
      Yet receiving in the day,
      Dark beneath, but bright above,
      Here disdaining, there in love.
   How loose and easy hence to go,
   How girt and ready to ascend,
   Moving but on a point below,
   It all about does upwards bend.
Such did the manna’s sacred dew distill,
White and entire, though congealed and chill,
Congealed on earth : but does, dissolving, run
Into the glories of th’ almighty sun.
Andrew Marvell

Reading Round-Up

September 12, 2014

lessing_2743124bHere’s the latest nuggests of news from the world of literature, including libraries with famous donors, online libraries dedicated to bringing classics into the modern world – and even one that has no books at all…

How does such a thing work? Over to TRO’s Arts Admin Intern Rebecca Pollard with the lowdown:

Doris Lessing has bequeathed 3,000 books to a public library in Harare, Zimbabwe (where she once lived for over 20 years). Her opening remarks after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008 focussed on how people in Zimbabwe actively asked for books when she visited a school there in the 1980s.

The Guardian details this on its website.

How would you feel about entering a library with no books on the walls? A purpose-built bookless library has been unveiled at Florida Polytechnic University. The library features online electronic books and articles, and is relying on students to recommend the books and journals they need.

You can find more on this story here.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an unpublished chapter of the story has been released online. The chapter, deemed too wild for children at the time, sees two new characters board a train out of the Vanilla Fudge Room.

The chapter also shows how Dahl’s original story changed to become the novel we love today: Charlie is visiting the factory with his mother, Mrs Bucket, rather than with Grandpa Joe, and we discover that Augustus Gloop was originally called Augustus Pottle.

You can read the unpublished extract on The Guardian’s website.

The British Library has recently launched the website Discovering Literature which features thousands of collection items about Victorian and Romantic authors. These items vary from modern articles written about these authors and their works, to the authors’ personal letters and their original inspiration.

The website is mainly targeted at GCSE and A-Level students, however it is the perfect way for everyone to access British literary classics and get into reading.

The website can be found here.

Eleanor Catton, the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries, has recently announced that she plans to use her prize money to establish a grant that allows writers ‘time to read’. The idea for the grant is based in the idea that ‘writers are readers first’, and so the recipients of this grant would simply spend three months reading, and after this time passes, they publish a report about what they read and share their thoughts on this with others.

You can read more on this article on The Guardian website.

The London Penny Readings 2014

September 11, 2014

Penny hi resThe London Penny Readings
Sunday 12th October, 5-6.30pm
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX

The Reader Organisation is proud to announce that our second London Penny Readings will be taking place next month.

Our extremely popular public reading event, based on a tradition made famous by Dickens, is coming to the Southbank Centre on Sunday 12th October as part of the London Literature Festival. This year’s festival concentrates on the themes of freedom, justice and democracy, celebrating the optimism of the human spirit and the ability of the arts to transform and change lives, and we will hear some of the greatest classic and contemporary literature that touches upon and celebrates the freedoms and struggles faced in human life.

Joining us for the London Penny Readings are special guest readers including writer, The Guardian columnist and patron of The Reader Organisation Erwin James and Frank Hewetson, one of Greenpeace’s ‘Arctic 30′ activists who was held in prison in Russia for protesting against oil exploration in 2013.

We will also be joined on the day by some of our shared reading group members from our London project, where we currently run a number of groups in a variety of community settings, and for whom literature has played a special role in helping to shape their lives:

“It’s been cathartic and touched things in me that I didn’t expect to be touched. In a very organic way. We are all from somewhere else, very different backgrounds and we’ve found something in common.” – shared reading group member, Southwark

Sticking to Dickensian traditions, entry into the event will cost no more than a penny on the day, but you can register now to guarantee your place for the evening:

Stay tuned to the blog and our other social media channels for more exciting news about the London Penny Readings as we countdown to the date.

Find out more about the London Literature Festival, running from Tuesday 30th September to Monday 13th October, on the Southbank Centre website:

Read On, Get On: Ensuring children can ‘read well’

September 10, 2014

read on get onAs the new school year is underway, news that as many as 1.5m UK children could leave primary school unable to read adequately by 2025 makes for unsettling reading.

Findings by Save The Children have discovered that illiteracy is a significant problem amongst the UK’s schoolchildren, with disadvantged children at most risk of being unable to read well by the time they leave primary school. Nearly half of all children from poorer backgrounds cannot read and understand books, newspapers and websites at age 11, and are the equivalent of seven years schooling behind stronger readers. The report also found that England is one of the most unequal countries for levels of reading attainment amongst children in the EU, coming second only to Romania.

To go some way to tackling this crisis, Save The Children are spearheading the Read On, Get On campaign to ensure that all children are able to read well and confidently when they leave primary school. The campaign is being supported by charities, publishers and educational organisations including the National Literacy Trust, Harper Collins and the National Association of Head Teachers, as well as public figures, celebrities and authors including Sir John Major, Michael Morpurgo and Helen Fielding, emphasising the importance of reading to social mobility and the future prosperity of the nation. We’re pleased that our home of Liverpool is setting the trend when it comes to getting children of all ages reading, and even more proud that City of Readers – a city-wide initative to encourage children and young people to read more, as well as everyone else – is supporting the Read On, Get On campaign, which pledges to unlock every child’s potential in life through reading, and reading well. You can add your support here:

Children at the City of Readers Launch c. Liverpool Echo

Children at the City of Readers Launch c. Liverpool Echo

The Reader Organsation has been working closely with City of Readers, a campaign for Liverpool Learning Partnership which aims to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city, and specifically to develop a generation of young readers who will take the power of great books into the future. Taking Liverpool as an example, City of Readers is part of the nationwide drive to ensure that the chances of children everywhere are improved by increased and deeper engagement with reading.

City of Readers is partly a response to a report by Liverpool Education Commission which aims to raise standards in schools and narrow the attainment gap between different groups of children in the city, but also encourage and enthuse the future generation to read more for the pleasure of doing so. Children who read for pleasure not only think more creatively, but also make more progress in school subjects including maths, vocabulary and spelling, according to a study by the Institute of Education.

Not only is City of Readers working with schools on a range of projects designed to especially to improve the reading of children, there are also many ways in which parents, carers and families can be involved to make reading a part of every child’s life – we know that reading in the home is a crucial way of improving reading skills. Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing an exclusive online serial as part of ‘Give Us 5′ for City of Readers – a marvellous mystery for the whole family to enjoy – and there’ll be much more happening to promote reading in Liverpool for children and everyone as the project progresses.

We’re really glad to see the issue of reading amongst children and young people is being raised on a vast public scale, and happy that Liverpool is setting the agenda for the rest of the country.

Find out more about City of Readers on the website: and for more information about getting involved with the campaign, please contact

You can learn more about the Read On, Get On campaign and sign the petition to ensure every child born this year will be able to read well by 2025 here:


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