Shared Reading in Libraries

South West: Region of Readers – a Shared Reading project supported by Arts Council England, Literature Works, South Western Regional Library Services and Bournemouth, Bristol, Dorset, Poole, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Library Services.

As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, we are keen to collaborate with more library services to bring Shared Reading to the heart of more communities. Over 8,600 group members come together for Shared Reading every year and we want to work with you to connect more people with great literature, and to each other, by reading aloud, together, in weekly, locally-led groups hosted by Reader-trained Volunteer Reader Leaders.

We currently deliver Shared Reading groups in over 80 libraries across England and Wales, but it is our ambition to bring the reading revolution to local libraries across the UK so that everyone, no matter who or where they are can find a group near them.

Do you run a Shared Reading group in a library? If your group is missing from the map let us know by contacting

Shared Reading is unique

No prior reading is required, everything is real aloud, live in the room, it might be a short story, a poem, an extract from a novel or even a play. What matters is the literature explores something real, something rich that sparks thought and a feeling of connection. Age, background, ability or literacy levels are irrelevant and group members can participate however is comfortable.

“I remember thinking that it sounded like a really beneficial thing to do, because yes libraries are about reading but they’re also about people coming together. It’s about community cohesion, bringing society together and being welcoming and anonymous so people can come along and do an activity…”
Fiona Tarn, Senior Libraries Development Manager
Croydon, Ealing, Harrow & Hounslow

Shared Reading supports the Society of Chief Librarians Reading, Health and Digital Universal offers and the “Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries” through:

Increased reading and literacy

  • 86% of young people we trained to run Shared Reading groups said they read more1

Shared Reading improves reading skills and attitudes to reading by raising confidence and well-being across the life course. We bring people from all walks of life together, make good literature accessible and empower people to read for pleasure.

Cultural and creative enrichment

  • 30% of Shared Reading group members use libraries more often2
  • 74% of Shared Reading group members take part in wider cultural activity3

Free, accessible groups hosted by highly trained and resourced Volunteer Reader Leaders engage new audiences with libraries, showcasing existing programmes and services and reinforcing the role of the library in supporting stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.

Healthier and happier lives

  • 93% of group members feel better after attending4
  • 77% of Reader Leaders say volunteering has improved their well-being5

We reach a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds, measurably improving well-being, increasing social engagement and broadening cultural horizons. Group members report far reaching health and well-being benefits and incredible personal journeys.

“After the reading group, I feel a change in the way things go, there’s a fresher air, things feel more alive.”
Shared Reading group member, Birkenhead


“The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them I’ve found a way back to life”
Shared Reading group member, North West


Get in touch and be part of the story

There are a range of ways to get the health and social benefits of Shared Reading embedded in your service and we will work with you to shape a project bespoke to your library service’s needs and aspirations. Bring Shared Reading to your community and embed a culture of reading for pleasure and well-being that benefits your staff, volunteers and library visitors.

Email or call 0151 7292200 Michaela Hall, The Reader’s  Partnership Manager

1 of 28 responses, 16 – 17
2 of 91 responses, August 16
3 of 91 responses, August 16
4 of 362 responses, March 16
5 of 31 responses, August 16

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