Library Assistant Beth Brown shares the joys of shared reading
Remember at school when everyone would sit in a circle and you'd take turns reading a story together? That is shared reading, and it doesn't only happen in the classroom - there's a growing movement of shared reading events in cafes, prisons, libraries, and lots of other community spaces. It's a wonderful way of bringing people together over a shared love.
Shared reading first grew in popularity around the First World War. Soldiers would return from the front, traumatised and struggling to reconnect with everyday life – but the vibrant words of poets and authors helped ground them and let them form better relationships with those in the room and beyond.
Shared reading is as relevant now as it was back then. In September 2019 we established our first shared reading group – 'Tea & Tales' at Rosaire Court, an assisted living residence that's home to one of our community libraries. And we've since followed up with another 'Tea & Tales' group for users of the Guernsey Alzheimer's Association Centre.
Once a month we get together to read a short story or a novel extract over a cup of tea and some biscuits. No reading or preparation before the session is needed. Those taking part are more than welcome to read aloud to the group if they like, but there’s no pressure. It’s very casual. The group are read to, tea is topped up, and discussion flows.
Just as important as the reading are the conversations that follow afterwards. People share their memories, brought to the surface by the themes of the story. Talk of pets, childhood, love – anything can crop up in a Tea & Tales session, and many laughs are had. The discussion can run longer than the time it took to read the story, becoming more interesting by the minute.
Just as important as the reading are the conversations that follow afterwards. People share their memories, brought to the surface by the themes of the story.
Through stories and poems, the members of the group have made friendships and everyone looks forward to the social opportunity each session of Tea & Tales provides. At one session an elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with a woman at the group, who he had seen around the corridors of Rosaire for years but had never had a chance to talk to.
Shared reading tackles loneliness.
Shared reading boosts wellbeing.
Shared reading improves literacy.
Shared reading is for everyone.
If your charity or organisation would benefit from our free shared reading scheme and would like to arrange a session, please contact Beth on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 720392