One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Landscape of Reading

A few years ago I read Frank Cottrell Boyce's The Unforgotten Coat, which I loved. Honestly, its one of the most magical and real books I have ever read. But what I found out---and what I loved even more---was that the book started life as a "free gift to the charity The Reader Organisation."

Okay, so then I had to look up this organization.

And then I fell madly in love.

The Reader Organisation is, as they say in their tag-line, bringing about a reading revolution.  What's there not to love about that, right?!  Their vision is that everyone  has access to literature and that personal responses to books are shared freely in reading communities in all areas of life.  So cool.  But this is not just a group of want-to-do-good-ers wishful thinking.  They've got some incredible programs up and running. Their shared reading project, Get Into Reading, is the foundation of their organization. It uses a model they have pioneered that brings people together for weekly read aloud reading groups. People read to one another. They listen to one another. Their thoughts and experiences are also shared and connections are made---with themselves and with one another.  The Reader Organisation has brought this model into prisons, libraries, schools, assisted living residences and other similar, structured environments.

Literature-based intervention works. They cite many studies and research that support the reality of the benefits of communal reading. It improves literacy.  It improves memory. It fosters mental health. its boosts self-esteem. It connects people. The list goes on and on.

Boyce visits Year 6 pupils at St. Benedict's in Netherton
When Boyce was asked if he would write a story to be part of The Reader Organisation's Our Read Initiative in 2011, he waived his commission and wholeheartedly jumped at the offer: "The whole point of writing for me is to share the stories that are in my head. And nothing makes me happier than hearing that a parent has shared one of my books with their children, or their friends or their work-mates. So the opportunity The Reader Organisation has given me here to share an idea with my whole city---and my whole city with the whole world---is the biggest thrill ride I can possibly imagine."

 You know, when I imagine the Landscape of Reading I see a room with a comfy chair, a soft light, maybe the steam from a mug of tea, and one person entwined with a book. But now, imagine a different landscape... a room with a long table, chairs with cushions, pillows on the floor, and kids in every corner, one to a book, two to a book, together...the possibilities are vast.

Happy Reading.


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