I’ve posted about the Reader Organisation before. The organisation is passionate about the healing power of reading. I am a bit of a fan. I found them when searching to see if there had been any research into people like Mother, who live with dementia, responding to poetry. It was about the same time that A Little, Aloud was published. I bought Mother a copy, though in fact she enjoys the poems from the various Nation’s Favourite volumes better.
The anthology A Little, Aloud for Children introduced me to the wonderful poem Instructions by Neil Gaiman. I reckon that alone justified the purchase price.
If you are starting to think I might be a tad admiring of this organisation you’d be right. I have read about, and thought I should like to do the training. They are based in Liverpool. I am in London. OK, it is the same country, but not handy. One day.
A few weeks ago, I picked up a flyer in the local library. My heart beat faster. It was for a Get Into Reading group near where I live. Not a convenient time, but by golly, a jolly convenient location.
For a nano second I wondered if I qualified. I got into reading when my age could be measured in months. Still. A couple of weeks ago I attended my first meeting. It was great. The leader (you can do a Read to Lead course, or maybe it’s Lead to Read; you get the picture) distributed copies of a short story. There was a tray of sugary cakes on the table. People had cups of tea. I had a bottle of water. The leader read part of the story aloud. She stopped. She asked us what we thought of the characters, what was happening. People chipped in. Lots of opinions, personal reflections, examples of situations they had known. It was a very mixed group. A lady with her carer, a couple of sharp tongued chaps, a man with a mobility problem, a lady with communication difficulties, an pair of elderly ladies, a lady who was waiting for an appointment elsewhere in the same building and presumably passing the time, a lady with ME, me. Slowly we made our way through the story, different members of the group volunteering to read. The leader kept the conversation on track, bringing us back to the text when we strayed too far away. As a group experience and a way of learning the thought processes of others in the room, sharing jokes, memories, similar experiences it was great. The story over, we read a poem. As a newbie, I was asked about why I had come. I explained about Mother’s dementia and her love of poetry. Immediately there was a warm welcoming reaction from people there. I left after an hour and a half with a spring in my step.
Last week I was on das Boot so could not attend, but today I grabbed a hasty sandwich and got there several minutes late. I shall be back.