“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 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 Poppy 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 Poppy came to me at the end of our very last Shared Reading 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.“
*Please note all Reader Stories are anonymised