We are regularly asked questions about what we do, the purpose behind our work and how people can get involved with it. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions, which we hope will offer some clarification, please do contact us if you want to ask something else.
Is there a Get Into Reading group near me?
The majority of Get Into Reading groups are currently in the North West and there are now several in London, with more in development in other parts of the UK (and Australia and Denmark). You can see if there is one near you on this map.
Can I start up a group of my own?
Yes! We offer specialist Read to Lead training for people who want to run their own shared reading groups, inspired by Get Into Reading. Our course will give you all the skills and confidence to set up and your own group. For more details and to find out what courses we’ve got coming up visit our training pages.
I am interested in helping out, do you need volunteers?
Yes, we rely on the generosity and dedication of volunteers in building the reading revolution. Currently our volunteer programme is mainly based on Merseyside and if you’d like to find out more, please visit the volunteers page.
Is Get Into Reading ‘bibliotherapy’?
Bibliotherapy is traditionally the use of self-help books, prescribed to individuals for certain conditions (e.g., depression, grief), which are taken away and read alone. Get Into Reading is not this: in Get Into Reading we practice a form of creative Bibliotherapy. Books aren’t prescribed by condition – the focus of the groups is not on members’ problems – they are rather chosen for their literary and human depths, and we read aloud together. Each weekly group starts with reading, before discussion takes off about the text and readers’ related experiences, always coming back to the book.
We might read a poem or a short story, a novel or a play, or a work of non-fiction; it might a children’s book, a new work, or a long established classic; whatever it is, it will be suitable for the group but not prescriptive. This shared reading model works because as texts are read aloud by one of our trained project workers, it offers immediate engagement – with members joining in as much or as little as they wish. This is enriched by the spontaneous sharing of life stories and experiences as confidence builds over time.
Why do you read aloud?
You’ll remember from childhood the enjoyment of being read to. Why do we let that pleasure go as we get older and are able to read on our own? The joy of reading aloud in a group allows the words come to life in the room, an extra vital presence, and this in turn leads individuals to express their thoughts and feelings about the book or poem. This model helps concentration; it both slows us down and wakes us up, and enables us to come together with others to share something valuable and important. Reading aloud also means that people who are illiterate, or who struggle to concentrate, or who have difficulties with eyesight – all these otherwise excluded people are able to take part in the reading group and can be drawn forward into the pleasure of of the book.
Why do you have such a focus on the ‘classics’ or things that many people would see as hard reads?
In our experience, making sense of challenging literature proves rewarding, and we have discovered that readers often find in poetry the most surprising pleasure. Even those whom we might expect to be limited in their ability to make connections (say, people suffering from Alzheimer’s) respond most essentially to poetry – an intriguing fact. We need Oliver Sacks to move to Liverpool and explain these things. We take the challenging texts but we don’t read them in an academic way. Our reading groups focus on the experiences and the felt meanings raised by these ‘classics’. We want to read across the centuries – because great writers have lived in all ages – our reading groups would be just as likely to try to be tackling The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Winter’s Tale as Millions or The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Our greatest writers become the greatest reads because they address the human condition, something that we can all relate to, whilst also giving us a vocabulary for our thoughts and emotions.