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 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

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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 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!”

*Please note all Reader Stories are anonymised

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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 been reading with several ladies every fortnight, which is just the right amount of time to fit in with my 18 hour week. It has been very rewarding to hear their life stories and to know that you are giving somebody in your community a positive experience. Customers have recognised me in the care home when they’ve been visiting their family, and I’ve felt proud of being part of something so special.

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. I’ve learnt a valuable skill that is bringing huge benefits to people in my community and I think that all Tesco Community Champions should have the chance to do this because it really is an interactive, rewarding experience unlike anything else we do in our job.”

Lindsay has given permission for her name to be used in this Reader Story.

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Reader Project Story: Shared Reading at Toxteth Library, Liverpool

Funded by Big Lottery Fund and Liverpool CCG, 2009 – 2015

The Reader provided a full-time Reader-in-Residence based at Toxteth Library in Liverpool, focusing on building community through Shared Reading groups.

The Reader-in-Residence set up various long and short-term weekly Shared Reading groups in a variety of local settings as well as in the library. These groups operate within the Toxteth boundary (L8), plus other non-regular reader development activities run in the area.

As part of the project, we read with people living with physical health problems, mental health problems including people with dementia, homeless people and unpaid carers, and people from a varied range of different cultural backgrounds. Group members at Toxteth reported increased self-confidence and self-esteem.

“Without the sense of worth and well-being I have received from being a group member I don’t think I could ever have gone back to work. I’ve been unemployed for nearly five years and have suffered with depression for longer than that so I know first-hand the power that these groups have to change someone’s life”

Shared Reading group member, Toxteth Library.

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