Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Richard’s group at Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital in Epsom. Richard had been attending one of our shared reading groups at the Central City library and was inspired to bring shared reading to the EK community and completed our Read to Lead training in 2017. Richard was already a regular visitor to EK as a close friend of his was a resident there. Our kaupapa is aligned closely with the Eden principles that EK follow and it seemed like a natural fit. Although Richard’s friend has since passed away Richard has continued to serve this community with weekly sessions for over two years.
As the session begins Richard introduces us to the story by reading aloud in a lovely, slow, expressive, clear voice. We are soon immersed in the text and participants are very keen to take a turn at reading aloud. Richard’s detailed knowledge of his group members soon becomes apparent as does his compassion for their fragile condition. This allows him to refocus open questions for the group into gently personalised questions. Participants can go deeper into the story by relating their own experiences to it. The result is that his group members feel acknowledged and valued. Richard is very aware of where people are at and checks in regularly during the session. He is excellent at being the “group memory” remembering who likes to read and summing up the action in the story before moving on to make sure we are literally all on the same page.
The group are very supportive of one another during the session naturally chiming in to help with pronunciation of tricky words or to interpret for one another any ambiguous parts of the story. Richard also enjoys strong support from staff member Elizabeth and it was nice to see a gentleman regularly attending with his daughter. I was impressed and proud to witness how Richard has created a very safe space for this community to explore their ideas, thoughts, experiences & memories in relation to stories and poetry. He has developed into a wonderful Reader Leader and I am so excited to see where the shared reading journey takes him and his group next!
“This thing is the one shining light- we have to keep our light shining. We can’t be somehow waning…. like Tinkerbell!” – EK shared reading group member November 2019.