The Reader podcast is a regular, audible magazine full of exciting and inspiring content, and offering listeners a taste of what the Reading Revolution’s all about.
If you need inspiration for the perfect bookish gift for a particular person, give this episode a listen. Whether it’s for someone who loves the great outdoors, or for someone who has cared for you this year, or for some bright spark who is always making, doing and creating – Reader staff have recommendations of great books to suit them all. We also have recommendations from the Founder/Director of The Reader, Jane Davis, and from the writer and critic Tomiwa Owolade, who we’ll be hearing from again in a future episode of this podcast. And if you listen right to the end, there’s a festive poem for you. Merry Christmas to one and all!
When our Young Person’s Mentor Greg spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live about Shared Reading, many listeners wrote in to say it was the most inspiring thing they’d ever heard on the radio. We caught up with Greg for an extended conversation about his role at The Reader and to hear more about how Shared Reading fits into this and into Greg’s own story so far. We’ll also hear from another Reader staff member, Sue, who reads a poem by Wordsworth and talks about the powerful and unexpected sense of calm that this old poem can create in her groups.
This episode is about being bold, taking risks and keeping an eye out for the unexpected! Gill Smith worked at the Storybarn, our interactive play space for children and young people, when it opened in 2016. Since then, Gill’s gone on to enjoy success as an illustrator – her first collaboration, a picture book of Victoria Hislop’s Maria’s Island, was released in June. Gill chatted with Annie from our Children and Young People Team about reading and where she finds inspiration, and she also shared some valuable advice for budding creatives out there.
In this episode, we ask ‘What makes a poem great for Shared Reading?’ Again, we take a closer look at a single poem, this time Cecil Day Lewis’ ‘Walking Away’, and hear stories about what this poem has meant to group members who have read it together in a Shared Reading setting.
We’ve named Episode Five – ‘The Languages We Know This Landscape By’ after a poem by award-winning poet, short-story writer, essayist and novelist Kei Miller. Kei was The Reader’s guest at an online event earlier this year, where he read poems from his 2014 collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, and spoke about the inspiration for this collection and his wide-ranging work. You can hear part of the recording of that event in this episode, as well as listening to Erin from The Reader sharing another ‘tried and tested’ poem, ‘Interludes’ by Debjani Chatterjee.
In this episode, we hear from two authors who have been great supporters of The Reader’s work: Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Joanne Harris. Frank reads his ‘Eulogy for the Lost’, broadcast by Culture Liverpool and BBC Radio Merseyside in March to mark a year since the start of lockdown. Joanne Harris speaks about her novel Orfeia, about grief, loss and the power of stories, and we listen in to a National Prison Radio Shared Reading discussion of one particular story by Joanne, ‘Tea With the Birds’, in which an encounter between two strangers proves transformative.
Episode three explores two pieces of literature from The Reader Bookshelf – The Promise, a picture book by Nicola Davies, and The Sycamore, a poem by Wendell Berry.
Host Frances Macmillan explains: ‘Both the book and poem make us look afresh at our relationship with the natural world, and the potential power and promise of this is brought out in an interview between author Nicola Davies and The Reader’s Kara Orford, and the words of Shared Reading group member Patricia.’
In Episode Two, host Frances Macmillan takes a deep dive into a single poem, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29. We revisit Shared Reading groups as members explore this poem together, and discuss how the words have moved them in different – and sometimes unexpected – ways.
In our first episode, familiar voices from across The Reader share some of the snippets that are stuck in their heads, Founder/Director Jane Davis interviews the deputy literary editor of The Times, James Marriott, about his reading life, and there’s an excerpt from one of the brilliant Shared Reading programmes produced by the PIPEs team and National Prison Radio.