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Join a Shared Reading group this Libraries Week as more than 100 give space for reading aloud together

Written by Kirsty Styles, 7th October 2019

It’s Libraries Week 2019 and so, as ever, we give our huge thanks to the staff and volunteers who keep these ‘hospitals for the soul’ open to the public every week.

In 2016, author Zadie Smith made an impassioned defence of libraries – they’re about the only public space where you don’t have to pay to stay, and much more besides.

Our Shared Reading groups are free, open to all, and regularly happen in libraries across the UK. Today, that’s 131 Shared Reading groups, in 122 libraries or library services, and many of them are among our most popular groups.

Below is a selection of those that are keen to welcome more readers – coming back every week thanks to The Reader’s own volunteers – who give up their time to create a space for great literature and the conversations that reading aloud together can spark.

One reader in a library group in London said: “I find a real comfort in the group reading. I don’t get this feeling when I read to myself. The person who recommended these groups thought it would be comforting to me to be read to. I was quite sceptical as it had never occurred to me that would be the case – you generally read aloud to five year olds!”.

A Reader Leader looking after a group in the North West said: “The groups runs itself and they are a complete delight. When our most recent book comes to end, we have a look at three or four texts that we know worked for Shared Reading, then select from that.

“I was a bit skeptical about reading Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful – ‘it’s kids’ stuff’ I thought. But wow, what a wonderful story of humanity and tragedy, set against the background of trench warfare in World War One.

“Our previous one, 1984 by George Orwell, was topical, savage stuff. It gave rise to a lot of good conversations.”

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? You can find one near you here. If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?


Childs Hill Library, Croydon Thursday 11am - 12.30pm
Shirley Library, Barnet Thursday 1.30pm - 2.30pm
West Norwood Library, Lambeth Thursday 6.30pm - 8pm


North West 

Swinton Gateway Library, Salford Thursday 10.30pm - 12pm


South Wales

Usk Community Hub & Library, Monmouthshire Monday 11am - 12.30pm


South West

Junction 3 Library, Bristol Friday 3pm - 4.30pm
St Pauls Library, Bristol Monday 2pm - 3.30pm
Cadbury Heath Library, Bristol Tuesday 10.30am - 12pm
Fishponds Library, Bristol Tuesday 11am - 12.30pm
West Park Library, Plymouth Monday 10am - 11.30am


South Yorkshire

Highfield Library, Sheffield Friday 12.30pm - 2pm

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