Jenna’s Reader Story – “I’m valued for who I am”
With Libraries Week UK on the horizon, we spoke with Jenna who attends a Shared Reading group at her local library in Dorset.
The group is one of seven Shared Reading groups that take place every week across five libraries, online and at a local mental health service thanks to The Reader’s long-standing partnership with Dorset Libraries.
Growing up for me was difficult from a dyslexic point of view. I believed I was ‘thick’, ‘stupid’. My place in school was at the back of the class, where I was not called upon for my opinion or contribution to any of the discussions. I felt this isolation and it set me apart.
For some reason, I have always been interested in literature and I wanted to get involved but my confidence was zero and this travelled to my body language. My shoulders went down, along with my head and I was afraid to meet the gaze of others.
A warm welcome
About six months ago, I noticed a poster in the Lyme Regis Library advertising a Shared Reading group. It spoke to me so I went along and received a warm welcome from the librarian.
I then met the Reader Leader and group members. Levels of literacy or the ability to read were not mentioned. I joined and found out that Shared Reading is all about getting into the story and the characters. It’s about what it means to me, how I perceive it and at last, I could voice my opinion!
The group are encouraging and friendly. I take turns to read aloud. At first, I could manage about two sentences but with the cheering of others I can now go further. My confidence has spiralled, I have combatted my fear of reading and all five foot of me stands upright and makes eye contact.
Literature light bulbs
I love every poem we read, the one about the snail was great. Short paragraphs of short sentences – I can get into them quicker. I have the confidence to look at each word, take a breath and take it in. I don’t have to rush, I go at my own pace.
I was intrigued by a story called The Duchess and the Jeweller by Virginia Woolf – I’d never heard of it before and it had shades of dark and light. I also loved reading an extract from Animal Farm. I love the way the animals have a voice. I could relate to this, it made me feel that I can stand up for myself for what I believe in. The novel Picnic at Hanging Rock totally absorbed me and in one story we even sang because the characters did.
What Shared Reading does
I like Shared Reading more than other activities I have tried because I feel that I don’t have to bring anything along with me. I am valued for who I am.
At first, joining the group did take me away from my comfort zone but I would encourage anybody to have a go. It is a supportive and friendly environment where there’s no judgement. I’m Jenna, a happy bubbly person – I wish it was Wednesday every day, that’s how it makes me feel.
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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