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Short Courses for September

September 2, 2014

MRL_5410-2Quick as a flash, September has arrived once more – and though the changeable weather might make you think otherwise, it’s generally the month that signals the start of Autumn. There’s also the fact that the holiday season is coming to a close, with schools swiftly starting up again and universities preparing for their next terms.

Though Summer may almost be over, we’re keeping its feelings going here at The Reader Organisation with the Short Courses for Serious Readers we have coming up this month in Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Far from being academic, our Short Courses for Serious Readers are specially designed for anyone who loves reading to enjoy getting to grips with texts that are a little more challenging in the company of fellow literature lovers. Over a day – or a number of weeks – we will enjoy great literature together, immersing into the texts and exploring together how reading good stuff can make us feel good too. There’s no need to do any homework – just turn up and be ready to discover.

For those of us feeling rather frazzled by the prospect of old routines reoccuring once more – or perhaps are just missing out the chilled out holiday vibe – find an escape at Read to Re-charge on Saturday 20th September, 10am-4pm at Calderstones Mansion House. Reading is a relaxing business, and we’ll be sharing the pure luxury that comes from reading for pleasure so you can have a truly idyllic time.
Places cost £30/£15 concessions: full information here

Perhaps you’re after a different pace altogether and are searching for a bit of adventure, but didn’t get the chance to jetset across the globe this summer (and let’s face it – round-the-world plane tickets aren’t cheap): you need look no further than our latest Short Course with Brian Nellist. Join The Reader magazine regular and Godfather of TRO to journey to some Far Places through some of the most classic works of literature. The first part of the two part course begins on Monday 29th September, 10.30am-12.30pm (every Monday for 10 weeks), with a special focus on Homer’s Odyssey. No need to go the extra mile when whole other worlds are at your fingertips.
Places cost £65/£35 concessions: full information here

Book your places on any of our Short Courses this coming Autumn or for the rest of the year by contacting Jenny Kelly: or call 0151 207 7207

You can find more information about any of our upcoming courses on our website. New dates for Read to Lead for 2015 have also been announced:

Featured Poem: Escape at Bedtime by Robert Louis Stevenson

September 1, 2014

After a fabulous few days hosting our Children’s Literature Festival -The Secret Garden of Stories – it feels fitting to continue enjoying the wonders of  Children’s Literature  in this week;s Featured Poem. For this reason, we have chosen one of our favourite Children’s poems, Escape at Bedtime by R.L. Stevenson. We hope you enjoy!

Escape at Bedtime:

The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out 
       Through the blinds and the windows and bars; 
And high overhead and all moving about, 
       There were thousands of millions of stars. 
There ne’er were such thousands of leaves on a tree, 
       Nor of people in church or the Park, 
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon me, 
       And that glittered and winked in the dark. 

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all, 
       And the star of the sailor, and Mars, 
These shown in the sky, and the pail by the wall 
       Would be half full of water and stars. 
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries, 
       And they soon had me packed into bed; 
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes, 
       And the stars going round in my head.


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Sharing literature at Latitude Festival

August 28, 2014

Last month The Reader Organisation hit the summer festival circuit as we took a trip to Suffolk for Latitude.

After a road trip covering quite a number of miles (most coming from the journey between Liverpool and Suffolk for our Comms team), we arrived at the festival site to set up home at the Shed of Stories, a haven in Henham Park:

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Over four days, festivalgoers could escape for some peace and quiet and a good dose of great literature as Lois, our South London Project Coordinator, read a selection of stories and poems aloud in special shared reading sessions on the theme of ‘Secrets, Lies and Surveillance’.

Take a peek inside…

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Amongst colourful mats and comfy Latitude cushions, our readers cosied up and enjoyed the texts that were on offer throughout the day – as well as enjoying some tea and biscuits.

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It was great to be able to bring shared reading to a new audience at Latitude, with the Shed of Stories proving a resounding success. Whether staying for a few minutes or nearer to an hour, it was wonderful to be able to offer some pure escapism to those at the festival, and we’d love to be able to make shared reading a fixture for all festivals in future!

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Our friends at City of Readers also got in on the festival action recently, bringing the best beach reads to the Liverpool International Music Festival at Sefton Park over the bank holiday weekend. Reading and festivals – clearly the perfect combination.

See what we’ve got coming up this Autumn on the Events section of our website:

The Menlove Treasure: Read Chapter 2 online now

August 26, 2014

menlove-treasure-front2The second chapter of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s exclusive online serial The Menlove Treasure is available to read now on the City of Readers website.

The book, written especially for City of Readers ‘Give Us 5′ campaign, is being released in monthly instalments from now until December, when the ending will be read aloud by Frank himself at this year’s Penny Readings at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.

The story so far:
On a school trip to Calderstones Park, Rylan Jennings is amazed to discover that Mrs. Crowley – the woman pretending to be his nan while his mum has disappeared – has a portrait of him: painted a hundred years before he was born. How is this possible? Who is Mrs. Crowley? and what is she doing on a school trip anyway?

Being published online is not its only special feature: the story is also accompanied by some special illustrations and animations that make the action come to life. And readers can be involved too…do you have a picture that reminds you of The Menlove Treasure? Something in the story, a piece of history or your own mysterious treasure that may be able to help Rylan in his quest? All you need to do is Instagram your pictures and videos with the tag #MLTreasure and they’ll be posted to the City of Readers website where they’ll add to the story as it unfolds.

It’s not too late to join in the adventure, as you can start from Chapter 1 on the City of Readers website. And if you’ve already begun then Chapter 2 is waiting for you!

Readers from all over the World Wide Web have already been enjoying the story:

“Wonderful cliffhanger! Definitely, I’m hooked!”

“FCB hits the spot again!”

“Loved it – can’t wait to show my 8 year old granddaughter so we can read next chapter together – I know she will be hooked just like me!”

Be part of the story – quite literally – by visiting the City of Readers website:

Featured Poem: My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

August 25, 2014

This week is a special one at The Reader Organisation, as it sees our very first Children’s Literature Festival taking place. Running over three days (Thursday 28th-Saturday 30th August), The Secret Garden of Stories will feature lots of reading fun all in the secret garden of Calderstones Mansion House. As well as special storytelling sessions from Roald Dahl Museum and a performance of The Secret Garden by The Bookworm Players, there’s going to be games, competitions, a poetry booth and our very Author’s Den which will be visited by top authors Jon Mayhew, Lydia Monks, Cathy Cassidy and Andy Mulligan.

You can find out more information about The Secret Garden of Stories and book your tickets for entry into the Author’s Den on our website:

With such a special event in mind, we couldn’t do anything else but choose a poem that was written especially for children as our Featured Poem this week (although those of us who are a little bit older can enjoy it too). From his children’s collection of poems A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885), this poem is one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s most enchanting – and is a particularly good one to read aloud, which makes it even better.

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest things about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Robert Louis Stevenson



Reading Round-Up: 9th August-22nd August

August 22, 2014

Book Close UpHere we are with another Reading Round-Up, giving you all the literary latest from the last fortnight with our Arts Admin Intern Rebecca Pollard:

The Hachette vs. Amazon war is still waging on. If you aren’t aware of what is going on with this, Hachette and Amazon have exchanged open letters to each other which has resulted in Amazon halting the sales of Hachette novels on their website, and hundreds of authors publishing an open letter against Amazon.

In an effort to remain impartial (this battle has split readers across the world), you can read a summary of what has happened so far on the Guardian website.

A recent Ofcom report has shown that the bookshelves of Britain are still stocked full with literature. The report shows that 16-24-year olds have the smallest book collections, and 55-64-year olds have the largest. It also highlights that whilst physical book collections have dwindled, ebook sales are on the rise – showing that literature is still consumed and appreciated by modern readers.

You can read more on this story on the Guardian website.

There has been controversy around the Warburg Institute, which is cared for by the University of London. Academics have spoken out against the University of London who are currently rumoured to be investigating the legality of the contract they signed with the Warburg family in 1944.

The Warburg Institute’s main concern is ‘cultural history, art history and history of ideas, especially in the Renaissance’; it remains significant, however, due to its removal (and the smuggling of its physical book collection) from Nazi Germany to London.

You can find more about this story here, and discover more about the Warburg Institute on their website.

Three schools in East Devon have come together to write a combined novel. In this Telegraph article, Jane Bidder writes about how children were collectively inspired and involved with the process of writing a story. The children were given an opening chapter, and then asked to choose what the characters should look like, and how the plot should continue.

The idea was thought up by NAFDAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) as a way of encouraging creativity amongst schoolchildren.

You can read the full story on The Telegraph website.

Julian Gough has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund his newest novel, and has equally found an ingenious new way of funding new literature. He argues that ‘the market in the written ephemera of writers is huge’ but that no modern authors leave a paper trail. He is repaying his backers with postcards, PDFs of his stories, and more besides. He believes that this idea – which he has dubbed ‘Litcoin’ – could be a new way of funding authors who are often very underpaid.

The Guardian reports the story here.

On the lighter side of literature, the Nottingham Post has recently reported on a woman who has 10,000 children’s books in her shed. Arguably in possession of a bibliophile’s dream (or the biggest shed known to man), Gillian James buys and sells her books from her back garden.

The Independent has recently reported that the attic that was used as the inspiration for Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre has recently been opened to the public. Norton Conyers have opened their doors for people wishing to see to where Bertha was confined in Mr Rochester’s home.

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch with what’s happening at TRO by following us on Twitter: @thereaderorg

PurpleCoat Productions present Twelfth Night on Tour at Calderstones Mansion

August 21, 2014

Purple CoatWe simply can’t get enough of Shakespeare here at The Reader Organisation, and after the marvellous Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare’s Globe a couple of months ago we’re thrilled to have another fabulous company join us at Calderstones Mansion House Garden to give us their version of one of the Bard’s other classic comedies.

PurpleCoat Productions is a film and theatre group based in the North West of England, creating innovative, exciting and exhilarating work to local and national audiences. With support coming from Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen and working alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company, PurpleCoat are definitely certified to tackle the Bard’s plays, with previous performances including Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet, and we’re very pleased that they’ll be bringing Twelfth Night (or What You Will) in their first touring production to Calderstones on Friday 5th September. If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets to the recent Everyman version then it’s the perfect opportunity to see the play performed by a talented local cast in beautfiul surrounding perfect for Shakespeare.

Twelfth Night on Tour will be whistle-stop, performing in 6 different cities over 6 nights, so it’s bound to be an energetic and thrilling ride. The show is already underway as casting decisions have been made and rehearsals are going ahead. You can stay up to date with all of the behind-the-scenes action as it happens from PurpleCoat on the Twelfth Night on Tour blog, with lots of fascinating insights already up…:

And to whet your appetite even more, check out the fabulous trailer below:

Twelfth Night on Tour plays at Calderstones Mansion House Garden on Friday 5th September. Tickets cost £10 (£8 concessions) and are available to buy at Calderstones Mansion House or via The Reader Organisation website:

Please note: there is a £1.20 booking fee for online bookings.

The performance will be held outdoors, so please bring along suitable waterproof clothing and a chair or blanket to enjoy the performance to its full potential.

For more information about PurpleCoat Productions, see their website or follow them on Twitter:


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