Reading Rooms round-up: August ’17

Our Children In Need summer Reading Rooms programme has come to its end. Thank you to Easons in Foyleside for all the lovely goodies they provided for some of our participants. The children had expressed how Reading Rooms has helped with their confidence, learning of new words, BIG words they didn’t know how to pronounce and the range of stories and poems they learnt each week. They said ‘it’s been magical’.

Also under our CIN strand, Michael Bond’s classic tale of Paddington Bear was the choice this week at our Reading Room at the Dunluce Centre. What would you do if someone showed up at your door with a cuddly toy? And it talked? Would you run them a bath? Mrs Bird did, as well as clean sheets on the bed. Paddington is one spoilt bear!

With our children from Extern, we read Gren’s Ghost by Maire Louise Fitzpatrick. The children were extremely vocal and very strong mended on their views and opinions of bully and peer pressure. This story gave scope for a lot discussion that happens in schools nowadays.

The short story is at the heart of what we do at Reading Rooms, and we select our stories from a huge variety of sources to suit individual group needs. That Glimpse of Truth – 100 of the Finest Stories Ever Written (ed. David Millar, Head of Zeus, 2014) is a lovely anthology we have picked a small number of gems from. Featuring authors as diverse as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hans Christian Andersen, Clarice Lispector and William Somerset Maugham, it is the perfect book to lose yourself in on a rainy summer day… it also makes a great gift…

Extracts from Kit de Waal’s award-winning novel My Name is Leon are quickly becoming a new favourite. We’ve just had lovely feedback from Foyle Disability Resource Centre, one of our longest running groups. Authentic, poignant and hopeful, but never once sentimental, the book explores 9-year-old Leon’s complex emotional journey of being a mixed race child in care in the UK in the early 1980s. Our participants, adults with severe physical disabilities, connected deeply with the little boy’s unique perspective and sensibilities. This opened up a wonderful conversation about childhood and its special moments. Thank you Kit de Waal for creating such a beautiful, memorable and authentic child character.

At Verbal’s Book Group, preparing kids for back to school, we had a wonderful time exploring our dreams! We read Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are and discovered that we can make anything happen in our dreams. We even got to go on an adventure through our dreams with our parents and carers! In Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, poor Gerry the Giraffe was feeling left out and all alone until he realised he could be free to dance any way he wanted to. It’s okay to just be yourself, and it’s wonderful to read, discover, imagine and play… together.

Moyra Donaldson, from Newtownards, Co. Down is another favourite poet here at Reading Rooms, whose work has started many great conversations in our groups. We just love how she evokes complex emotional states and experiences in language that is both deeply poetic and accessible to many. Thinking about autumn (from her Selected Poems), for example, sums up beautifully what goes on in many people’s minds at this time of year.

Inspired by a get-well story for the author’s daughter (who also invented the character’s name…), children’s book classic Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren features another fiercely imaginative redhead. Just like ‘Anne of Green Gables’, here at Reading Rooms we love Pippi for her resilience, optimism and creative vision. The book has lost none of its unique appeal since it was first published in Swedish in 1945. We can’t wait to share the recent edition illustrated by the new Children’s Laureate UK Lauren Child with our children’s groups this autumn…

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