Our shared reading groups reach hundreds of people each week, from many different backgrounds, ages and walks of life. For all, a connection is provided through the reading and sharing of great literature with others. For many, the connection goes much deeper, offering a boost to confidence, strengthened social bonds, a chance to start again and even a vital lifeline.
Out of sharing the stories of great authors, our Readers own varied and personal stories have emerged - a testament to the power of literature. Read just some of their stories below.
"Book Break has had a massive impact on my life"
"Mondays have taken on a completely new aspect. I’ve got something to look forward to now, for the first time in years"
“I like to read them again, you have to, it helps my head. You see what I mean.”
"My Mum loves it! She is usually very quiet and doesn’t tend to interact with the other residents – this is the first time I’ve seen her offer her opinions in a group, and really engage with something instead of just sitting in front of the telly"
"This group has been a lifeline for me"
"This group is possibly one of the few interactions she has during the week, and more importantly value her for who she is"
"This is as ‘normal’ as life can be while we’re here. I look forward to it every week. It takes me to places.”
"I could see it on his face – just how much he’s enjoying it and into it.”
"Each week he remembers exactly where we have left off and sits smiling for an hour as we continue with the story."
"Coming to the reading group, and reading this book, has made me remember that I do really enjoy reading – and how much fun it is to find a story you can get lost in"
"His reading is getting better and better, and his vocabulary is widening – but what is more important in our sessions is his enjoyment of the book. W is expressing more and more feeling and thought through the book"
"There was a real sense of achievement when we had finished each story, and he would love deciding which one to read the next week"
"This isn’t something I would have imagined myself doing, and yet now, it’s become a part of my job that I look forward to and feel incredibly passionate about"
"When I do the song with her it is as if I've hypnotised her - she loves listening to me and watching me do the actions"
"This is good and we've got all that from this little story!'
"From the reading aloud I am getting the confidence I need for my baby"
"I have found that my tastes have expanded and my confidence in reading aloud has changed for the better"
"I soon realised that books could be a life boat and an amazing safe environment"
"I have come to learn the power of words in our lives – and the power of silences. They go deep into our psyche"
"I really like these poems because they’re real. They are real life"
"I look forward to this… to coming here every week"
"Because it’s important, I feel, there’s so much enjoyment there – you learn so much from other people"
"It was such a wonderful experience, hearing Shirley read the words of her younger self aloud to her peers, and the reaction of members of the group was very special"
"It has opened doors to new possibilities and allows these women to experience a sense of empowerment for the first time in their lives"
"I was on the verge of suicide last year and now I’m a completely different person. 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"
"The residents have expressed their thanks on numerous occasions and have even said the reading session is the highlight of the week"
"The reading group draws me because of its power to transport me outside the confines of my everyday world."
"This helped me to focus on what is important"
One member of the group was accompanying his wife for the first time, and surprised both of them by expressing his understanding of the poem. She said, ‘Fifty years married, and I’ve learnt something new about my husband this afternoon.'
"There’s nowhere else in jail that I can be so, sort of, myself, because it wouldn’t go down too well."
"Is this group on every morning?" ‘’If only it was!’’
"‘You’ve got me back into reading, you have. I hadn’t read a book for 50 years!"
'Carers say how much the sessions mean to all of them and how they look forward to coming to the reading group'
‘What advice would you give her?’ I asked. ‘To move forward slowly’.
"I got ‘M’ to read a few lines, then half a page, until finally he read a whole page. His face was radiant."
"The end of the poem was followed by laughs and smiles all around as the members seemed to enjoy it."
"Coming here keeps me going week to week."
"I have learnt more of what it is to be a human being."
"This was the first time they could ever remember seeing Adam smile for long periods and looking so content; all through his love and care for the characters in the story"
"The poems unlocked something inside them like nothing else can."
"It makes you think...when I'm here I don't think of anything else."
"Helping those with dementia respond, and facilitating groups to get conversation going, are both challenging but very satisfying."
The Reader magazine offers a mix of new poetry and fiction, classic and neglected works and interviews with leading literary figures.
Our trustee Phil Davis is taking part in an event as part of Oxford University Press' Literary Agend
If you have any suggestions on how we can enhance The Reader experience for you, please get in touch by filling out our quick form. Thank you.