Man reading a book

Tuesday Tries Shared Reading

We have recently started working with The Reader, a charity based in Calderstones Park. We are delighted to add them to our portfolio of Liverpool-based positive change-making clients.

The Reader is a charity that uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives and bring on a reading revolution. Their volunteers and staff bring people together to read great stories and poems – creating powerful moments of connection. This is called Shared Reading.

In a world that feels increasingly divided, and with increased pressures on our mental health, Shared Reading offers us time and space to share what matters to us.

To get fully immersed with the term ‘Shared Reading’, and to find out more about the organisation our Junior Account Executive, Rachel, took part in one of The Reader’s ‘Shared Reading’ sessions. She shares her thoughts below:

‘There was a variety of different online sessions to choose from, they all looked great but I went for ‘R&R Stories and Poems’.

The online session began with Rachael, our Reader leader, introducing herself to the newcomers, and giving us a chance to explain who we are and where we are situated. I could feel a sense of community within minutes, even if one person was in Liverpool and the other in Scotland. We then proceeded to the first poem, The Sweetness of Dogs by Mary Oliver. It is a poem about a dog owner taking her beloved dog to the seaside, and the adoration and companionship that comes with their relationship.

After reading through the poem together, we joined in a 30 min discussion on what everybody felt about the poetry. Everyone shared their experiences and adventures with their dogs and the companionship the fluffy pets bring. We also reflected on how calming it can be to be somewhere that you deem “So beautiful it makes you shudder”, just like it says in the poem.

I spoke about my walks to Crosby Beach, and how each time I go, it is like the first time. It is always a breathtaking experience and I admit, I take it for granted. To be able to walk five minutes to the coast is a luxury that many do not have.

The next poem was My Cats by Charles Bukowski. I found the animal theme intriguing, and after reading, we all had a chat about how cats and their owners behave, the difference between cats and dogs and how humans try to understand animals. Ironically, my cat Coco was meowing at my bedroom door as we spoke about this and as soon as I let her in, she walked out again. This truly symbolises the hold our fluffy friends have over us, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There was even some humility in the poem, as Bukowski placed the human being as someone who is ‘learning’ from the cat, which is ironic, as it is at the end of the day, a small fluffy animal who can’t speak.

We analysed the stanzas, the colloquialisms and the language used. Everyone was very united, with Rachael allowing each person in the call to speak and share their experiences with the themes we had touched on. I could tell the people in attendance were regulars, and had all formed relationships surrounding reading, which is beautiful.

We listen to poems like we are listening to the radio. It is an adventure. I came away from the session feeling unified and happy to have read and analysed some poetry, which I never take the time to do.

So, if you are ever looking for someone to read with, or if you haven’t read for a while, pop into The Reader Cafe in Calderstones Park, or if you are not nearby look at some online sessions. It is definitely worth it.

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