Happy Birthday Central Library Shared Readers!
Reading Revolution at Central City Library
The end of August marked two years since the start of the Reading Revolution at Central City Library. The group is a mixture of rough sleepers and the general public. The Reading Revolution provides access to great literature in a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere. It gives participants an opportunity to read aloud and discuss short stories and poems over a cup of tea with biscuits.
Along with a new story and a poem, we had a pizza and a cake to celebrate the anniversary. There was also a chocolate bar from Michael, a regular attendee. About a year ago, Michael joined the group as a participant and since then has shown a lot of passion and commitment to the programme. In November, he was trained as a shared reading facilitator and now assists library staff to run the group. He says he doesn’t have a large network of friends, looks forward to every session and wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Another regular, Vic, cut the cake and nicely offered a piece to every member individually. I asked him if he had done catering before and he coyly replied that someone had to do it and he knew he could do it nicely. The impromptu speech he gave at the start of the session was just as professional as his cake cutting!
At our sessions, Vic is usually quiet and rarely volunteers to read aloud. He likes to pick lines from a story or a poem that he finds particularly beautiful or interesting, and then share them with others. Last week he brought to our attention the description of a tree that “has the arms and legs of a giant” from a story by Albert Wendt. Vic said it reminded him of trees in Albert Park in the city centre.
Vic’s speech encouraged others to talk as well. Tim, known for his tuneful ear and love of poetry (he is always the one to read a poem aloud), mentioned Ray Constable and Rangi Carroll, former group members who have passed away. Tim has been with the group since its first day. Not only does he remember the stories we read, but also the people they were discussed with. We talked about Ray and Rangi for a while. Some participants knew them well, while others did not. It was nice to share memories.
Sten joined the group a couple of months ago, after being brought along by a friend. He said how much he loved coming to the group, and how different the story feels when it is read aloud and discussed with people. Sten has a natural gift for stories and we are lucky to get him on board. His common sense attitude and life experience is something shared by other members of the group so he connects with them quickly. In the end, this is what shared reading is all about – overcoming isolation, making connections through literature and group learning.
By Maria Mitenkova
Central City Librarian & Reader Leader