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Diane: ‘I love the human side of [Shared Reading], the contact with others’

Written by Lily Kehoe, 26th April 2024

The Somerset resident, who has cerebral palsy, joined a Shared Reading group in Bridgewater Library after giving up work in her late 50s for health reasons. 

I was invited to join a Shared Reading group and was fascinated from the first moment.  I really enjoyed it – the group was really lovely.  There were six of us in total, including a couple of women and a man who was blind with his guide dog.   

We read a short story and a poem.  I felt really at home and I continued to go every week from then on.  On the rare occasion the Reader Leader couldn’t make it, she would email out the story and poem.  I would read it at home and still feel connected knowing that others in the group were reading the same literature. 

When Covid hit, the Reader Leader started sending the literature out by email every week.  She even included an audio version of the poem and it was a lifeline.   

Then a lady called Sue started a Zoom group so I joined that – Sue had a connection with Bradford-on-Avon Library.  It was wonderful because we could still read together but we didn’t have to worry about being in close contact with anybody so it felt very safe from a Covid point of view. 

Then a Wednesday afternoon group started up on the Reading Rooms website – The Reader’s online Shared Reading platform.  It was a very mixed group, with people joining from Buenos Aires, Athens, Turkey as well as from other parts of the UK.  The Reading Rooms would send us a reminder email every week and we could join the group by just clicking a link. 

I love the variety of Shared Reading.  I love the fact that every week we read something different and the authors are so diverse.  Yesterday we read a passage from an Argentinian author.  An extract I would never have picked up were it not for the group. 

Shared Reading is hard to explain but I love the human side of it, the contact with others – meeting characters in stories.  I have recommended it to others who have given it a go and enjoyed it too.  It’s quite contagious.   

‘Atlantic Crossing’ by Jeanette Winterson was a joy to read.  

One week, we shared an extract from Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – which was so adventurous about a chap getting shipwrecked. I couldn’t believe how somebody could write with such clarity in the 1700s.  There was a very vivid passage of a storm smashing into the ship. 

It reminded me of when I was caught in a rip tide.  I had no control, it just took me.  Then all of a sudden I was free of it.  After being thrown to the shore he clung onto a rock then made his way to the beach with his head in his hands.  What to do now with nothing in the world!  How would you survive that? 

Another story we have enjoyed is ‘The Wireless Set’ written by George Mackay Brown and set during the Second World War. We’ve also read his poem ‘Beachcomber by George Mackay Brown.

Shared Reading is the highlight of my week.  The group are very welcoming and I think of them as quite good friends. It’s wonderful. 


As a charity we rely on the generous support of individuals and organisations to help us change lives through Shared Reading. A donation allows us to train volunteers, provide resources for groups and help reach more people. We want to make sure everyone can attend a Shared Reading group, no matter their background, income or situation, and we'll be so grateful for your help.

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