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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.

Hosted by Frances Macmillan, every episode explores a different theme, and includes special Shared Reading moments from across the organisation.

All episodes of the podcast, including season one, are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and PodBean.

Episode Nineteen: The Garden Theatre

In this episode we return to The Reader’s project uncovering the heritage of Calderstones, our home in Liverpool. We’ll be visiting a very special part of Calderstones – the Garden Theatre, an outdoor stage added to the Mansion House by Liverpool Council in the 1940s. We’ll hear from audience members who have enjoyed shows on this stage, both past and present, and learn why the Garden Theatre’s long association with Shakespeare makes Calderstones the perfect home for The Reader.

Episode Eighteen: The Reader's Storybarn

The Storybarn is a one-of-a-kind reading retreat for children and their grown-ups. Little ones can let their imaginations run wild, discovering new stories to share, and taking part in unique experiences, alongside arts and crafts.

Episode Seventeen: Now We Sit With It

The title of this episode is taken from a new painting created for permanent display in Calderstones Mansion House by Liverpool-based artist Sumuyya Khader. The artwork responds to new research by a historian and Reader heritage volunteers into links between the Mansion House, its owners and the transatlantic slave economy. In this episode we speak to Robert, one of the volunteer researchers, and to Sumuyya Khader, to hear about the process of uncovering and responding to this research.

This episode has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of ‘Making Meaning at Calderstones’ – The Reader’s two-year project to uncover and celebrate the unique stories of our reading home.

Episode Sixteen

The Bromley by Bow Centre in London is a unique community centre, charity and community research project that seeks to offer people a wide variety of services based on their individual needs – from medical help, to job support, meeting people or learning a new skill. The centre was a model and inspiration for The Reader’s own headquarters at Calderstones Mansion House in Liverpool. Rob Trimble is a patron of The Reader and was until recently the Chief Executive of Bromley by Bow, and he joins The Reader’s George Hawkins to talk about how we can create spaces for human beings to find meaning, connection and hope.   The Bromley by Bow Centre website  Bromley by Bow featured on ‘The Truth About… Improving Your Mental Health’ on BBC One  The Reader website  ‘Not Love Perhaps’ by A.S.J. Tessimond

Episode Fifteen

On 14th September 2023 Batford Books will publish an handsome new anthology, A Poem to Read Aloud Every Day of the Year. This anthology has been compiled by Liz Ison who has volunteered or worked for The Reader for many years, running a variety of Shared Reading groups both in person and online. The Reader’s Director of Literature, Katie Clark, spoke to Liz about her reading life, how that’s been influenced by Shared Reading, and the genesis of this anthology. During their chat they read aloud from the collection and delve into the mysteries and magic of reading aloud.

Episode Fourteen

In this episode, staff from The Reader take us on an audio tour of The Reader’s Liverpool home, Calderstones Mansion House in Calderstones Park. We learn a little about the history of the Mansion and the ancient monument that gives the house and park its name, and listen to literature that brings those spaces and their former inhabitants to life. This episode is the first of several about The Reader’s two-year heritage project, Making Meaning at Calderstones, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, during which we are uncovering and telling the stories of Calderstones as a significant place of meaning-making.

Episode Thirteen

Isobel from The Reader meets Neil Griffiths, educational consultant, author and storyteller. Their conversation ranged over Neil’s childhood, growing up with a father who read bedtime stories every night, to his time as a head-teacher working hard to engage parents and teachers, and on to advising governments on education and the importance of reading. What shines through all is Neil’s passionate belief in the benefits of reading aloud to children.

Episode Twelve

On our ‘Light and Darkness’-themed Reader bookshelf this year is Katherine May’s Wintering, a compassionate, curious, wide-ranging book which describes a phase of life that comes to us all at some point, and shows that respite and renewal can be found even through the darkest times. Katherine May was our guest at Gravity festival in October, speaking to Melissa Chapple and Philip Davis about Wintering, and also about her first book, The Electricity of Every Living Thing. We also hear how Wintering resonated with audience members at Gravity, and listen to the John Donne poem ‘A Nocturnal Upon St Lucy’s Day’.

Episode Eleven

*This episode contains explicit language (swearing) and discussion of suicide throughout which some listeners may find distressing.* In this episode we’ll hear from two events at Gravity and two different guests linked by their experiences of being on the frontline in responding to fellow humans in moments of crisis. We chat to Tony Schumacher, writer of BBC1’s ‘The Responder’, and Chris Dowrick, Professor of Primary Medical Care at the University of Liverpool and a practising GP. Chris is the author of the well-known book Beyond Depression, and, more recently, of Reading to Stay Alive: Tolstoy, Hopkins and the Dilemma of Existence.

Episode Ten

The author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce has been a patron and supporter of The Reader for over a decade. During the summer, after his first post-Covid tour of schools around the UK to talk about his new children’s book, Noah’s Gold, Frank met with Jane Davis, Founder and Director of Literature at The Reader, to talk about the huge differences he saw in the children he met. When Frank came to Gravity, he continued to draw attention to the effects of the Covid lockdowns on children, and spoke with fellow author Lissa Evans, and The Reader’s Head of Children and Young People Kara Orford, about how books can help children cope with change by giving them the apparatus for happiness.

Episode Nine

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! 

View all of our Christmas Recommended Reads.


Episode Eight

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. 


Episode Seven

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.  


Episode Six

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. 


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