Share the Reading, Share the Love

As luck would have it, I was booked in to attend the Reader Organisation conference today in London. I spoke about this organisation at Mother’s funeral yesterday, explaining why it is one of the two chosen charities we are asking people to donate to in her memory. The other one is Pets as Therapy. I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew, which was foolish, because of course the facilitator from the Get Into Reading group I have attended twice was there. She was one of the first people I saw when I went to the coffee and second breakfast spot.
I was wishing more and more that I could swap my first workshop for the one on dementia, when I saw the reports on the work the Reader Organisation has done with people living with dementia sitting on a table. I picked up two copies; one for me, one to drop into the home where Mother was living.
There was an opening session in the auditorium. I took a seat, and then saw Sandra, a local storyteller and member of our poetry group walking up the central aisle. I caught up with her at the coffee break. Her sister died in the autumn, and both of us had been tripped up by a reading about a boy who had lost his mother.
We were in the same group after the break. My emotions sloshed about in that one too, and then it was lunchtime. Another member of my local Get Into Reading group turned up. She is interested in joining the poetry group, so I introduced her to Sandra, and watched them bond.
After lunch there was a fascinating talk about how our brains respond to poetry, and how in particular they respond to functional shifts; nouns used as verbs, adverbs as nouns and so on. Shakespeare was fond of this, and today helped explain why some of his phrases catch us and spin our imaginations as they do. But I was amazed that reading poetry results in increased activity in all parts of our brains.
We were very well fed all day. Despite the fact I was interested in the talk, I could happily have had a mid-afternoon nap, but it was on tothe next seminar.
The whole day was about the strength of shared reading, of building communities around shared reading; using reading to make connections with people, to improve health and wellbeing. Continue reading