When we began our first reading groups, G 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 G becoming more interested and engaged in the story we were reading. It was The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce. In the last group session we had before the Christmas break, she told me, ‘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. It’s why I’ve asked for a Kindle this Christmas, and I’m going to read the book with my little cousin!’
P had been a quiet and shy, though attentive, member of a group at Hope, always present and interested, but very rarely offering comments in discussion and never reading aloud. But something happened after the Christmas break, when the group started reading Patrick Ness’ novel A Monster Calls. After a few weeks of reading, during which P had become more and more engaged in the book and our discussions, she shared with the rest of the group her connection to the book’s main character, Connor, whose mother is terminally ill with cancer. She said, ‘When my mum was ill I felt like he does – I didn’t know what I wanted people to say to me, and I couldn’t express what I was feeling to anyone’. At the end of the year P came to me at the end of our very last group, when we finished the novel and said, “ I wanted to keep coming to the group to find out what Connor does, how he makes it right in the end, and to kind of encourage him along. It felt safe reading it and talking about it in the group. I’d definitely encourage young people to read it – it’s real.’
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