Have you seen Shared Reading on our activity schedule and wondered what it is?

Have you seen Shared Reading on our activity schedule and wondered what it is?

15 March 2022

Read on and all will be explained…

Firstly, we should say that it is for absolutely everyone and you can choose to be actively involved or you can simply sit back and listen.

What is shared reading? 

Reader leader Sally Freestone explains… “When we arrive (either online or in person), the person leading the session will have selected a poem or piece of text and will begin by reading it to the group. Each person has a copy so everyone can follow along. Members of the group are invited to contribute any comments or thoughts that have been generated for them by the piece. It’s important to emphasise that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers – any reaction is valid and welcomed.

“We often re-read the text during the session – sometimes a few times – to reflect on how its meaning for us changes as we discuss it together. It’s also good to have it read by another person as hearing it by another voice can bring new understanding.”

Here are some of the benefits of taking part in Shared Reading:  

  • An opportunity to meet other people and engage in a shared activity with a shared focus.
  • Focussing attention on a piece of writing can provide a respite from everyday worries and concerns, bringing us back into the present moment.
  • Being ‘read to’ is pleasurable and something that happens rarely outside of childhood.
  • Listening to a poem or story often helps us to reflect on our own experiences.  

Sally says: “I’d really encourage anyone to try it! Particularly if you have (or had in the past) a passing interest in reading. It’s not about being knowledgeable about literature, or being able to critique text, it’s about bringing some curiosity and open-ness, to listen and reflect. Some people love to read out loud, share their thoughts and discuss, while others prefer to sit back and listen to the story. Either way is fine and, while there’s every opportunity to share, there’s no pressure to do so.”

Here’s an example to illustrate:

These lines are an extract from The Road Not Taken, a poem by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could…

Sally says: “I’m sure many of us can recall a time when we stood at a junction in our own lives and had to make a choice about which way to go? Sharing our thoughts, feelings and memories which connect with the text often helps us to understand ourselves and each other a little better. Sometimes it’s surprising to find that we can recognise something about ourselves in what is written on the page, and interesting to hear how those same words impact others.”

We understand that the numbers of people reading books soared during Covid, but it was largely a solitary experience. Shared Reading brings a new dimension to enjoying the written word as something that draws us together in our understanding of ourselves and each other. It fosters a sense of community, common experience, and enhances wellbeing.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign yourself up for a Shared Reading session. You will be warmly welcomed.