Meet wonderful volunteer Reader Leader Gaylene
How did you get into shared reading & why?

I had retired and was looking for somewhere I could do some volunteering. Training to be a Reader Leader was advertised on an Auckland Volunteers website. The idea of being able to volunteer somewhere, where I was able to share my love of reading, seemed a no-brainer.

What do you enjoy about being a Reader Leader?

Our group is largely made up of people where English is their second language. It has been a pleasure to share English stories with them and enjoy their journey. There have been many experiences shared, from the different cultures, inspired by our shared stories.

Are there any stories or poems that have stuck with you & why?

I have particularly enjoyed a couple of Jack London short stories set in Alaska and North West Canada (To Build a Fire, Call of the Wild) and also some of Ray Bradbury’s Science Fiction (All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Emissary). The Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepherd was a Christmas favourite. The Poem, Still I Rise by Maya Angelou remains with me.

Any reader who’s journey has inspired you in your group?

A gentleman from Taiwan. Always interested and always had an intelligent insight to share. A lady from China who researched every word she didn’t understand so she could enjoy the story more easily at shared reading. Another lady from China who started out being very reserved and after a year had gained so much confidence in her reading and understanding of English that she regularly took part in the discussions.

Tell us more about your community…

Our group is a delightful mix of Taiwanese, Chinese and Korean. Occasionally we have had Russian, Argentinian and the odd “other”. The size can range from 10 – 17 people. A good number is around 10-12. Their English needs to be good enough to share our stories successfully. Many of our group have been with us for 5 or 6 years. Others come and go as they head back to their home country.

Would you recommend becoming a Reader Leader & why?

Absolutely! Lots of fun. So appreciated by the people who come along. Dawn and I have been taken out to Yum Cha a number of times. My knowledge of the Short Story has improved so much.

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