Reader Stories

In Shared Reading groups our Reader Leaders bring along stories to be read aloud, in the discussion that follows we find that group members often share their own stories. This is, in part, the power of Shared Reading – to stir thoughts and memories, to give words to something already thought or felt but not yet expressed.

Our group members, volunteers, partners and staff members often share their own Reader Stories with us – of how they found The Reader, what impact Shared Reading had on their lives – and they’ve given us permission to share them. 

(Unless we have been given express permission to include an individual’s name, all our Reader Stories are anonymised).

Reader Stories:

Reader Story: Stephen, Pheonix House, Wirral

This is Stephen’s Reader Story in his own words: “Without the Shared Reading group, I don’t feel that my recovery would have been possible.” I needed something, somewhere I felt comfortable to escape to, to start meeting people, away from home and other distractions and this fell into my lap just when I needed it. …



Reader Story: Debbie, Care Quality Commission

Debbie Westhead is the Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care North Region for the Care Quality Commission. She joined in at a Shared Reading group in a care home in Wigan. “I was impressed with the professionalism of The Reader and how they engaged with people most of whom were living with dementia. The group was …



Reader Story: Lauren, Communications Intern

Lauren joined the Marketing and Communications team as an intern in Summer 2016, choosing to extend her internship beyond the initial three months. On leaving The Reader, Lauren secured a full time Marketing role in Liverpool.  Being a Communications Intern at The Reader and spending six months based in Calderstones Park was an amazing experience …



Reader Story: Poppy, Liverpool Hope University

“It felt safe reading it and talking about it in the group. I’d definitely encourage young people to read it – it’s real.“ Poppy* had been a quiet, shy, though attentive, member of a Shared Reading group for PGCE students at Liverpool Hope University, always present and interested, but very rarely offering comments in discussion and …



Reader Story: Neil, Greater Manchester Probation Trust

“Some guys on the wing said I was doing this group to get out of work. I came the first time and I enjoyed the atmosphere and what I got out of it. I wanted to come back.” Neil* has been involved in the group since the first week. He has said that he likes the …



Reader Story: Robert, Greater Manchester Probation Trust

“I’ve felt more relaxed in this room than in any other place in this prison. This is as ‘normal’ as life can be while we’re here.” Robert* is in his 80s and is the oldest member of the Shared Reading group. He joined during the fourth session and has attended every week since, always walking into …



Reader Story: Norman, Read to Lead Graduate, Highlands

Norman is Prison Literacies Liaison Officer in the Library Support Unit at the Highland Council. He attended the Read to Lead Residential in September 2009. This is his Reader Story in his own words: Read to Lead training has expanded and enhanced the nature of my work, no doubt. I’ve always had a broad definition …



Reader Story: Gordon, Read to Lead Graduate, Westminster

Gordon is Learning Support Librarian at Maida Vale Library, Westminster. He attended the Read to Lead London Open Course in January 2011. This is his Reader Story in his own words: This course equipped me with the whole range of skills and, just as importantly, the confidence needed to run a Shared Reading group at Maida …



Reader Story: Patrick, Prospect Park Hospital

In a quiet moment after the session he said he was ‘thankful’ for being reminded that he was ‘still able to feel’. Patrick* attended 11 Shared Reading sessions. At first, he could not always concentrate sufficiently to follow the pages; sometimes he had to leave part way through, to return a little while later. An assistant …



Reader Story: Conor, Greater Manchester Probation Trust

“I don’t like being in groups and talking about myself. But doing it, being in this room is conquering those fears. It’s therapeutic for me.” Conor* joined the Shared Reading group during session four. We were reading a Deep South-set American story, A Worn Path. Conor volunteered to read a section of it aloud and did …



Reader Story: Marty, Greater Manchester Probation Trust

“Marty seems to be getting loads out of the group. When I popped my head around the door before [into the meeting] I could see it on his face – just how much he’s enjoying it and into it.” Staff member, Greater Manchester Probation Trust I first met Marty* in mid September. When I went …



Reader Story: Harvey, St Mungo’s Learning Community, Glasgow

“Teachers overhearing from their rooms or passing by are astounded at how positive and enthralled Harvey has been, especially as his default setting in class is to be so reticent and dour.” Harvey lives in his sibling’s more exuberant shadow and is by far the least confident of the two. Whilst his peers have all …



Reader Story: Gail, Liverpool Hope University

I met Gail* when we began our first Shared Reading groups with PGCE students at Liverpool Hope University. She told me that she wasn’t a keen reader and in general, didn’t really like reading or see the point in it. Over the weeks however, I could see Gail becoming more interested and engaged in the …



Reader Story: William, Looked After Child

“…that’s like me, when I was taken away from my family, I didn’t want to go, but it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know that until I was safe somewhere else like Skellig”. William* is 12 and has learning difficulties which mean that he finds it very difficult to read. He is a Looked After …



Reader Story: Paul, Looked After Child

“I think he loved the respect that went with reading this type of stuff together – by giving him the older, harder literature, I was saying to him that he was mature enough for reading serious literature with me.” Paul* is 10, and is a Looked After Child. When we first started reading together, he …



Reader Story: Lindsay, Tesco

Lindsay, Tesco Community Champion at Heswall, attended the A Little, Aloud workshop in Liverpool followed by a Masterclass a few months later, and has since gone on to facilitate fortnightly Shared Reading session for older people in Fairfield Nursing Home close to her store. This her Reader Story in her own words: “Since the workshop, I’ve …



Reader Story: Jane, Kensington and Chelsea

Jane attends a Shared Reading group in Kensington and Chelsea, this is her story in her own words: The reality of life is we have to take hold of what it deals us and we can’t pass the cards back. Two years ago I was introduced to Shared Reading through Kensington and Chelsea Library bibliotherapy services. It was …



Reader Story: Marie, Plymouth MIND

“This group has become the highlight of my week and I clear my calendar to ensure I can make the sessions” Marie* is in her sixties – a devoted mother and grandmother who has been coming to MIND for many years. She describes herself as a very private person by nature who has a social …



Reader Story: Shared Reading in HMP Low Newton

In preparation for RISE (Reading in Secure Enviorniments –  a collaboration with seven national literary festivals to bring contemporary writers to criminal justice settings) we read Jean Sprackland’s poems for a few weeks. This focus on one poet is a new, rewarding, departure for the groups. Themes were explored, comparisons made, and we came to really know …



Reader Story: Derek, Cornwall

Derek first attended a Shared Reading group in Outlook South West, a psychological therapy service in Cornwall, and now comes to a group every week in the library. The group facilitator asked him what Shared Reading meant to him: How would you describe yourself and your needs before joining the group? I have OCD – it’s a fight for …



Reader Story: Tom, Wirral

“If you told me this time last year “you’ll be reading poems and enjoying it” I would have said “stop talking crap!” But I love the poems now – I can’t believe I’ve gone from a group member to an assistant and am about to do the admin training… it’s just all ballooning out for …



Reader Story: Anne, Volunteer, Rubens House, Barnet

Anne is a volunteer on the Barnet project, she has told her Reader Story in her own words: The Shared Reading group at Rubens House, a Jewish Care home in North London, has been running since summer 2012. It goes from strength to strength. We have nine regular attendees, a mix of men and women, all …



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