Monday, 23 December 2013

Books for children at Christmas

Here's a cheering and inspiring story for Christmas--Juliet is a one-woman Give a Book who collects new books and gives them to 16 or more venues---including hospitals and children's hospices. She also set up a thriving phone box library in her home village. She told us "St Thomas's are collecting from me later this week for their general wards, and the Evelina children’s department, and then Great Ormond Street next week....so that all children incarcerated over the Christmas period get a gift from Father Christmas`s literary pile!?"
So why not Give a Book for Christmas to someone who really needs one.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Thank you

The excellent and generous Portobello Press  have kindly donated lovely new fliers to Give a Book for Christmas. Huge thanks from all of us for this support.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Michael Morpurgo

Wonderful news that Michael Morpurgo has just been announced as the new president of Booktrust.
Christmas cheer indeed. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Tales with Teddy

The wonderful Reader Org has just started a children's reading project at White City Community Centre. Give a Book was delighted to give the books for this and we've just had this lovely thank you.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Living the story

Michael Morpurgo has again written affectingly about the importance of reading time for children. In an wonderful article in The Times on Saturday 7th December he reminisces about his own childhood and being read to by his mother and grandmother and through them acquiring the love of stories. In his ideal world every child would have that special reading time both  at school and at home. And every child would have books of their own to love, cherish and return to for life. He lists 8 books that he'd love every child to have:
The Tiger who came to Tea by Judith Kerr; Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Victoria Lee Burton; The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling (which was his choice for our GAB Book of the Month back in August 2011); Charlotte's Web by E.B.White; The Iron Man by Ted Hughes; The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson; The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde; The Man who planted Trees by Jean Giono.
1 in 3 homes in the UK have no books at all. The single strongest indicator of future success in a child is whether or not there are books in the home. So why not Give a Book to someone who really needs one this Christmas?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Thank you

We've just heard that Discount Banner Printing is going to support Give a Book with free printing of  leaflets. They generously do this for several charities. So a huge thank you to them for this gift to us. We greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Poetry inside

Great Poetry Slam at Pentonville the other day--powerful poetry and song from the heart. Dorigen Hammond of Writers in Prison had elicited great work. The judges-- who performed too-- were the brilliant Chris Preddie and Joelle Taylor.  The winner the extraordinary Chanel. Coincides with the publication of Inside Poetry: Voices from Prison Volume 5 and as Rachel Billington, the editor, writes "Their voices fly with their message over barbed wire and high walls to freedom."
Give a Book is pleased to have given dictionaries for prizes and to be there.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Bring back story time

The former children's laureate, Michael Morpurgo, has called on the Government to reinstate story time in all schools, saying children need time in the day for reading and quiet contemplation. His words were reported in The Telegraph today and were spoken at the opening of the wonderful Brackenbury Primary School Library. At this school in West London a bunch of mums got together to raise money and build a superb new library where there had been none. Give a Book is delighted to have been able to help put books on their shelves in this excellent project and congratulate them on their achievement.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thanks from Avondale School

We love to hear how it's going so thank you Avondale Primary School for this lovely card. And thanks to all who support Give a Book to make it possible.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

George Heriot's School

 George Heriot's School in Edinburgh has a fine literary magazine called Ink. It's entirely edited and written by the pupils. They made a particularly lovely first issue and donated the proceeds to Give a Book. This came out of the blue, out of cyberspace, and we were and are delighted by this generosity. Thank you, all, at George Heriot's for thinking of us. It means a lot to us. And your magazine looks great.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Martina Cole urges prisons to join Six Book Challenge adult literacy drive


International bestselling author Martina Cole has called on all prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) across the UK to sign up for The Reading Agency’s annual, nationwide Six Book Challenge to increase literacy skills among prisoners and help reduce reoffending rates. She was speaking at a special event – held yesterday at the Free Word Centre, The Reading Agency’s central London home – for prisons already running the scheme. (The Reading Agency is an independent charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life, by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers.)
Launched in 2008 by The Reading Agency, the Six Book Challenge is increasingly recognised as a key intervention using reading for pleasure to help tackle this country’s continuing skills deficit. As recently highlighted by an OECD study England’s 16- to 24-year-olds rank 22nd out of the 24 countries taking part for literacy skills (see ‘Notes to editors’).However, ninety per cent of survey respondents say that they are more confident about reading after taking part in the Six Book Challenge, which invites them to pick six reads of their choice and complete a reading diary in order to get a certificate.
Martina Cole, rated by prison library staff as the most widely read author in prisons, is the ambassador for the 2014 Six Book Challenge. She said: “I meet a lot of prisoners who really struggle with literacy but they’re prepared to give my books a go. What I like about the Six Book Challenge is that it’s encouraging people to read who wouldn’t otherwise do so.I’m really happy to be supporting it." She added: "Next year I will do a Six Book Challenge tour and visit lots of participating prisons.”
Over 100 prisons now run the Six Book Challenge with around 7000 prisoners taking part this year. However this is still under 10% of the UK’s prison population of 93,000, half of which have poor literacy skills. The Reading Agency aims to reach at least 10% of offenders and extend use of the Six Book Challenge to all 150 prisons, YOIs and secure units in the UK by 2015.
"Low literacy blights the chance for far too many prisoners to turn their lives around. But we’ve seen the Six Book Challenge make a difference to their attitude to reading and learning and help them make a new start in preparation for release,” said Genevieve Clarke, adult literacy specialist at The Reading Agency. “We’re determined to extend it to all prisons and deepen its impact where it is already used. Martina Cole’s support in promoting the scheme to prisoners and prison staff will definitely help us to achieve this.”
As ambassador for the 2014 Six Book Challenge Martina Cole will be visiting prisons to talk about the scheme. She has already spoken at an event at HMP Lewes in Sussex on 3 October to mark its success in the Prison Libraries’ Group Prison Library of the Year competition, and on 15 October she visited HMP Swaleside in Kent as their ‘prize’ for winning the 2013 Six Book Challenge draw for participating prisons.
Twenty prisons received special awards from The Reading Agency this year for the number of prisoners they supported for the 2013 Six Book Challenge, including HMP Pentonville in London which has achieved 236 completers.
“Seven out of ten of our prisoners say they have a learning or literacy problem,” said Nick Walmsley, regimes manager at HMP Pentonville. “We are convinced that doing the Six Book Challenge encourages them to come into our library and use the facilities and get back into education. And we all believe that not only does it assist prisoners whilst they are in prison, but that when they leave, it has a positive effect on an ex-prisoner’s ability to remain an ex-prisoner, and not re-offend.”
"I love the Six Book Challenge,” said keynote speaker Gabrielle Lee, governor, HMYOI Deerbolt in County Durham, which won a silver award for 115 young offenders completing the Six Book Challenge. “It takes real courage to attempt something like this when you've not had success at school. Getting prisoners to start the Challenge can also be the time when they realise they may need some help in other areas of their life. If we get their trust through the Challenge it can lead on to looking at ways they can make other changes."
The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge in prisons is supported with funding from the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust, the Bromley Trust and Give a Book which has donated dictionaries to Six Book Challenge completers.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Reading for Pleasure

Neil Gaiman gave the second annual lecture for The Reading Agency the other day. Miranda McKearney OBE, Founding Director of The Reading Agency said: "Tonight is part of an urgent debate about how to build a nation of readers and library users. Who better than the extraordinary Neil Gaiman to help us think through new solutions to the fact that for a wealthy country, with free education, we have a shocking literacy problem?"

Gaiman said: "I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things."
He then spoke about 'the power of fiction to transform our understanding of the world and turn us into citizens': "The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy giving them access to those books and letting them read them."
He cited research by America's private prison industry, showing why reading fiction is so important: "I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons - a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth - how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based about asking what percentage of ten and eleven year olds couldn't read. And certainly couldn't read for pleasure. It's not one to one: you can't say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations. And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction."
Now please go back to Give a Book.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

The culture of reading

Recently Viv Bird, dynamic CEO of the wonderful Booktrust spoke out about the need to change the culture of reading. She announced the new Booktrust Best Book Awards and spoke of the goal to 'see children pestering their parents for Malorie Blackman’s latest book alongside their pleas for One Direction tickets.'  Like the Children's Laureate we all want 'to get more children reading more.'
Then there has been the great news that Waterstones raised £75,000 for the Children's Reading Fund.
And a report came out that reading levels amongst 7 year olds have risen significantly. However, a survey showed that fewer than 1 in 3 older children read books outside school and many think it 'uncool' to be seen with a book.
Research from the New School for Social Research in New York showed that people who read literary fiction perform better in social interactions. David Kidd, a psychologist, is quoted as saying that "literary fiction really involves the reader in a certain type of social interaction. What a great author of literary fiction does is scaffold our theory of mind---pulling us into a situation where we have to use our capacity to understand people to its fullest extent."
In other words, have a little Chekhov to get through your day.  And then please do go back to Give a Book.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Night Walks

The extraordinary Maggie's Culture Crawl took place last night. Hundreds of walkers assembled in the early autumn evening sunshine in Victoria Embankment Gardens. The walk kicked off with music, a rousing warm up, and the fabulous Dame Harriet Walter and husband Guy Paul reading selections from Dickens' Night Walks to see them off into the night.  Later, actors Jamie Glover, Harry Livingstone, Sarah Whitehouse, and GAB's own the wonderful Helen Mumby read poems from Josephine Hart's anthology Catching Life by the Throat in the exotic surroundings of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Walkers came, stopped to listen, were gripped and then walked on to taste Fortnum & Mason's tea before walking away into the night.
At the end of the 15 mile walk every walker was given a copy of Night Walks as a memento by Give a Book, who gratefully acknowledge the generous help of Penguin in doing this. It was all in aid of the excellent Maggie's Centres whose new centre opens in Aberdeen on Monday. And GAB was pleased to be part of it. Onwards. And please go on to Give a Book so that we can keep this going.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

First Story Festival

First Story held their annual Festival today: around 700 kids from all over the country turned up in Oxford to spend the day talking to writers and writing. Their enthusiasm was infectious. At the end a handful of them, beautifully orchestrated by poet Kate Fox, stood up before the crowd and read from the work they'd done during the day: the talent was prodigious. They were warmly supported by amongst others, the Childrens' Laureate Malorie Blackman, Deborah Moggach, Oxford City poet Kate ClanchyMark Haddon, Stephen May and Salena Godden to name but some of the wonderful writers who join in to help First Story.
One of their alumni, award-winning poet Azfa Awad, wrote this for Give a Book:
"I really enjoyed the 'Staying Alive Trilogy' and was inspired by many of the poems. The fact that someone was generous enough to donate the anthologies is incredible and the fun and inspiration we had from the anthology was priceless."
So now please go back to Give a Book to help us keep this going.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Reading for Pleasure

The BBC news recently reported on a study by The Institute of Education drawing on research by the always admirable National Literacy Trust. It's about the importance of children reading for pleasure --even maths scores improve, for example, as well as vocabulary and overall educational level. They urge parents to read with their children. Even 10 minutes a day makes a real difference. And they included the following tips for parents:
Even 10 minutes a day reading with your child is a major help
Choose a wide variety of books to introduce different types of language and style
Take turns to read aloud to each other. They can learn from your expressive reading and you can check they are not struggling
Ask questions about the book - maybe about what might happen next or a character's motivation
Make sure they understand any new or unusual words or phrases
Enjoy it - "try and lose yourselves in a good story!"
Now you can go back to Give a Book.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Books for Family Days in Prisons

We've had more lovely feedback passed on to us by Prison Reading Groups--thank you for that. It's so nice that we reproduce it here:

The [books] were delivered the day before our family day, just in time. In the end as we had 2 adult ed tutors who had delivered the Hungry Caterpillar we set aside a quiet area and put the books on low tables surrounded by soft chairs and allowed the children in their own time to "find" this area. When a child showed an interest then either a parent or tutor went over to assist with reading if necessary.
When the child had looked at several books they were allowed to choose a book to take home and at that point they were given the book bag, notepad and if appropriate, pencil and pen.
When [the facilitator] spoke to the families the feedback was ... fulsome and they expressed absolute delight and amazement that any one would give their child a book bag with a choice of book too.
The facilitator added that [she] was delighted to have been given the opportunity to see the children choose books and sit and read them when there were so many other activities available. As some-one who has been involved in education from community-university it strengthens my belief that books are still the most important avenue through which young children can acquire information, develop interests, learn the art of reading for pleasure a pursuit which can be done with others or on your own.
Many thanks for the books.
And many thanks to all who generously support Give a Book for making this possible.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Wonderful Line-up for Forward Book of Poetry 2014

The Forward Book of Poetry 2014 - which we are giving copies of to First Story's Young Writers' Festival next month - promises to be an exciting collection. Jeanette Winterson, chair of the 2013 judging panel, has described the anthology as “a genuine showcase of the scope and depth of poetry now”. She and her fellow judges – Paul Farley, David Mills, Sheenagh Pugh and Samuel West – each read 162 poetry collections and 159 single poems before settling on the ones they loved best.

The poets shortlisted for the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection - Rebecca Goss, Glyn Maxwell, Sinead Morrissey, Jacob Polley and Michael Symmons Roberts - will all be featured in the book.

Other poets shortlisted this year are Steve Ely, Adam White, Emily Berry, Marianne Burton, Dan O'Brien and Hannah Lowe, all for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection. The shortlist for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem includes Rosie Shepperd, C. J. Allen, Hugo Williams, Patience Agbabi and Nick MacKinnon.


Winners will be announced on October 1 at the Southbank centre. Other poets who will have work in the collection are Danny Abse, Simon Armitage, Gillian Clarke, Clive James, Luke Kennard, Mark Halliday, Medbh McGuckian, Maurice Riordan, Anne Stevenson, George Szirtes, Clare Trevien, Jean Sprackland and CK Williams.





Sunday, 18 August 2013

Forward Books of Poetry for First Story's Young Writers' Festival

Give a Book is delighted to be giving copies of the Forward Book of Poetry 2014 to First Story for their Young Writers' Festival this September:


The festival will be held on 19 September, when hundreds of school children will gather to attend workshops on creative writing and hear writers talk about their work. The festival forms the launchpad for First Story's programme of workshops and events to encourage young people to write creatively, which take place throughout the school year.







Friday, 9 August 2013

Family Days with Bags of Books

Give a Book has just started giving our gorgeous GAB BAGs to prisons for their Family Days. The bags contain books, pencils and pads for the visiting children. PRG have sent us this report:

The first Family Day at HMP Wandsworth was clearly a brilliant success and both books and bags were a triumph.
As it happens, one of the fathers who was there is also in the reading group and added his thanks in person. He said his own five-year-old was too excited to sit still but that there were lots who spent a long time sitting with their dads and reading together. And he thought having the book and the bag to take home would really help the children remember the day and the enjoyment of being together.

Here are some of the other comments received :-
"My daughter loved the book, it's one she'd read at school so she was very pleased"
"the gift [of a book] was a wonderful surprise"
"It was wonderful for my son to have something to remember the day by"

"the bag is great; I'll use it to take my art work home"
"my wife says my son is writing notes for me in the pad he received on the family day, thank-you"
"thank-you very much, my children loved it"
"the whole day was a fantastic opportunity to bond with my family, the bag of goodies was an added bonus"
"It was wonderful to sit and read the book to my daughter during the visit, it helped us to re-bond and helped us escape our environment for a while"
So thanks to PRG and HMP Wandsworth for sending this feedback which we love to get and thanks to everyone who helps Give a Book do what we love to do. Now please go back to Give a Book.



Sunday, 4 August 2013

What Books Can Do Behind Bars

Click here to read a full report about the wonderful work of Prison Reading Groups. We're proud to be able to help them-- thanks to all of you who make Give a Book possible.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Reading Groups and feeling good

The pleasures and power of Reading Groups are amongst many good things celebrated by The Reading Agency. Their Reading Groups for All describes again and again the sheer value of reading-- to cheer you up,  to challenge, to inspire and share. Give a Book gives books to Prison Reading Groups, to Maggie's Centres,  Age UK and anywhere else where reading makes a difference. We can only do it with your help, for which our heartfelt thanks. 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Rights of the Reader

There's a wonderful book called The Rights of the Reader by celebrated French writer Daniel Pennac. The book sold over a million copies in France, and grew out of Pennac's experiences of teaching in "challenging" schools. Central to the book is his belief that readers have rights: to read what, how, where and when they want, and – if they choose – the right NOT to read. It has been introduced by Quentin Blake who has also done its gorgeous and witty illustrations. There is also a poster available which illustrates The Reader's Bill of Rights, listed here:

1. The right to not read

2. The right to skip pages

3. The right to not finish

4. The right to reread

5. The right to read anything

6. The right to escapism

7. The right to read anywhere

8. The right to browse

9. The right to read out loud

10. The right to not defend your tastes.

Read the book, and then please do go back to Give a Book.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

More news from inside...Chibundu Onuzo at a prison reading group.

Chibundu  Onuzo’s  The Spider King’s Daughter is a first novel of degrading poverty and fabulous wealth, laced with vigorous dialect, and set in her native Nigeria. Readers at an HMP were lucky to have an author visit from Chibundu Onuzo recently, organised by the Librarian. Support from Give a Book provided 25 copies of the novel for readers throughout the prison.
This was a lively and enjoyable event, with a large group of readers who had really engaged with the novel, and found its story of the relationship between a street hawker and a millionaire’s daughter fascinating and absorbing. It’s a novel which opens your eyes to the extremes of Nigerian society, from the Louboutins and swimming pool lifestyle of the super-rich to the subsistence level existence of the very poor.  There are fascinating glimpses of West African life – the food vendor who keeps pieces of fried meat in a secret compartment of her bra for favoured clients, the wealthy teenagers who are confident their fathers will pay someone clever to sit their entrance exams for Yale.
As well as facing really in-depth questions (at one time she said to one questioner, `You know this novel better than I do!’)  Chibundu Onuzo read several hilarious extracts featuring the `pidgin’ which makes this novel so distinctive. For those familiar with it – quite a few in the audience -  this sense of a known place was what made the novel such an enjoyable read; others, like me, found some of the dialogue strange at first. But it’s Chibundu Onuzo’s skill at dialogue which makes The Spider King’s Daughter so rich. And I learned quite a lot: that women in Nigeria are called `Aunty’; older women would be `Ma’; you never address your parents by their first names.  Conversation on topics like this went on long after the formal question and answer session was over, and Chibundu Onuzo stayed for a long time chatting with the audience.
All the book group members and other readers at the prison are really grateful to Chibundu for her visit and for providing such a lively afternoon.
The reading group is part of the Prison Reading Groups (PRG) project. Now please go back to Give a Book.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The new Children's Laureate

We're all delighted at the announcement of Malorie Blackman as the new Children's Laureate. A wonderful writer and a wonderful reader whose mission is to "get more children reading and make reading irresistible in all its forms." There's an interview with her in The Guardian Review and her latest novel Noble Conflict is out now. There's a Blagger's Guide to the Children's Laureate in the Independent.  Now please do return to Give a Book.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Our Patron

Give a Book is proud and thrilled to announce that the distinguished historian Lady Antonia Fraser, DBE has agreed to become our Patron. Her latest book is the hugely acclaimed Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832.  Lady Antonia was the first person to choose a Book of the Month for us and has been an avid supporter from the start. Her own book The Pleasure of Reading
says it all--in it 40 leading writers explain what first made them interested in reading. They describe the comics and childhood classics that first inspired them to read, and what today continues to do so. Contributors include Simon Gray, Jeanette Winterson, Sir Ronald Harwood and Sue Townsend. It's our kind of book. So now please go back to Give a Book

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bark and read


The Bark & Read Foundation has been set up to support and promote the amazing work of charities that take dogs into schools as reading volunteers to help tackle the UK’s literacy problems.
Funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the Bark & Read Foundation is working with Pets As Therapy, through their Read 2 Dogs project, and R.E.A.D (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) and Dogs Helping Kids (DHK), operating in schools around the country, helping children to read with their specially trained support dogs.
Reading to dogs has been proved to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dogs’ presence has on children and the fact that the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence needed to read aloud.
This month's Book of the Month has been recommended for us by Zoe Wanamaker CBE, who supports Bark and Read. She said: “Reading is such an important skill that is used in every part of our lives, but it can be a scary and intimidating experience when you are young.  As with anything in life you have to practice, practice and practice to get better. That is why the Kennel Club’s Bark & Read project is such an inspiring idea, as we all know that dogs are great listeners and won’t judge if we stumble over a word. The concept makes reading time fun and helps to develop children’s self esteem and passion for reading while they’re still finding their voice. If children aren’t inspired to read then they will just turn to their play-stations and x-boxes instead.”

Find out why the Bark & Read Foundation was launched and what makes dogs the perfect classroom companion for children learning to read.
Now please go back to Give a Book.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

The message of the medium

Another interesting and important study from the National Literacy Trust about children who read on e-readers compared to those who read printed books. The study shows that for the first time there are more children now who read on e-readers than in print, that most children have access to computers at home, and that those who read on e-readers are less adept at reading and also enjoy it less.
Think on this, read the study and then please return to Give a Book to give a book to someone who really needs one.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Power of Books


We've had a lovely message from Mandrem in Goa from Helen at Helping Elsewhere. This is the only place outside the UK we give books to and we are delighted to do so. Helen writes:

"Once again we are offering huge, huge thanks to Give a Book for donating another wonderful selection of children’s reference books!! This is the second year running that our friends Claudia and Andy have foregone a good part of their flight luggage allowance to bring these valuable resources out and Jacinta, our Mandrem headmistress, was lost for words when trying to express her gratitude to people from so far away. As before, we are dividing the books between Mandrem and Sirsi (who haven’t quite got theirs yet!).

Please do take a look at what Give a Book does – it really is extraordinary – and if you believe in the power of books to address needs and spread pleasure across society then do please think about helping out where and when you can.
Give a Book at Sirsi

Back to Mandrem, and we were also privileged to meet two of Claudia’s and Andy’s friends, Henry and Sue Dixon. They are also long term Goa fans and had come loaded with all sorts of reading and arts materials for Mandrem school. We were very touched to learn that Henry had taken quite a lot of time out from a very busy year as High Sheriff of Clwyd in order to source a lot of donated books.

And let us not forget Filomena and Jorge Borba’s continued support in America – this year they have sent an appreciable amount of money to be spent on the library and sports equipment. They fell in love with our little bit of Goa when they visited a few years back, and have continued to support us from Boston ever since. And don’t forget they are sponsoring two more Sirsi schoolkids!

It was a really great ‘feel good’ experience when Henry, Sue and I visited Mandrem a few days back to give the teachers and kids an amazing range of books, to give Jacinta the money, and to show Henry and Sue the quality of our little village school now!

Thank you to everybody again for making this work!"

Now go back to Give a Book.





Sunday, 5 May 2013

The importance of instilling a need to read


A characteristically trenchant and excellent article in The Telegraph the other day by Jonathan Douglas  Director of the National Literacy Trust , a charity that transforms lives through literacy. We quote it here in full.
Teens who choose to pick up a book for pleasure are more likely to succeed in life, research shows. But getting them to do so isn’t easy, says Jonathan Douglas.
Reading for pleasure at the age of 15 is a strong factor in determining future social mobility. Indeed, it has been revealed as the most important indicator of the future success of the child. That was the startling finding of research carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on education and reading, and their role in promoting social mobility. It highlights why getting teenagers to read for pleasure is more than a sepia-tinted ambition for frustrated parents. It is a fundamental social issue.
The research findings need unpicking. A distinction is being drawn between different motivations for reading – whether it is done for its own sake, or whether it is the result of being cajoled by carrots and sticks. Research suggests those who read for pleasure demonstrate an intrinsic desire to engage with stories, texts and learning. Reading for pleasure therefore reveals a predisposition not just to literature, but to the sort of lifelong learning that explains increased social mobility.
There is a simple conclusion to draw from all this. We must encourage our children to read for pleasure. But that is easy to say and hard to achieve, particularly in the culture in which many young people grow up today in Britain. They have plenty of other leisure activities to choose from.
They can, of course, read on a screen, but we read in different ways when reading different formats. The language of emails, for example, is not the same as the language we would use in a letter. Analysis so far of the impact of digital literature is that it can play an important role in building core literacy skills, but there is an ongoing debate about whether it conveys the same benefits as reading a physical book. Initial research in the United States would appear to suggest that it doesn’t.
There are also differences between boys and girls in terms of reading for pleasure. In Britain, girls read more and have more positive attitudes to reading than boys. This is not a universal phenomenon. In India, by contrast, it is the other way around, though that may have more to do with questions of gender and access in that society.
In Britain, it is about gender and attitude. The reluctance of boys to read for pleasure seems more social than biological. A recent commission led by National Literacy Trust (NLT), of which I am the director, with the All Party Parliamentary Literacy Group found that, for many boys, reading for pleasure was just not something they wanted to be seen doing.
We can dig beneath this headline assertion and identify other potential reasons for the reluctance of many boys to read in their own time. Does the predominance of women in the primary school workforce, where reading is encouraged, make it seem a largely female activity? And what about research that shows that girls from an early age are more likely than boys to be given books, that girls are more likely to be taken to libraries and bookshops, and that mothers, rather than fathers, are more likely to read to children?
I would also argue that a youth culture that shuns reading for pleasure must also be related to the way literacy has been taught in our schools. In 1998, the Labour government introduced a National Literacy Strategy. It produced an improvement in reading standards in primary schools, but it also seems to have reduced levels of reading for pleasure. We need to address this urgently.
The reading for pleasure habit, I firmly believe, can only be built by giving youngsters the sort of books that interest them. So school libraries, for instance, should not only stock books that support the curriculum, but also books that match pupils’ own interests, sparking their enthusiasm for reading and books. If that means car manuals or books about football for boys, then so be it.
As well as chiming with their interests, books that hook young people into reading need to resonate with who they are. The teenage novels of the past four decades are an extraordinary development in literature, and explore the teenage identity.
This has not always been the case. When I was a teenager, once I had outgrown Rosemary Sutcliff, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, the standard literary journey moved on to Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie – a strange hinterland of innocent experiences of adulthood. Meanwhile, in the classroom, the emphasis was on building our knowledge of the canon of classics of English literature. That often felt far removed from anything I was actually going through as a teenager.
It was only in the Seventies that writers such as Aidan Chambers, with his “Dance” sequence of novels, and Robert Cormier, with The Chocolate War and others, came along with literature specifically for teenagers, which chimed with what they wanted to read in the same way that pop music resonated with what they wanted to hear.
And that transformation continues apace today in the hands of the likes of Melvin Burgess and Malorie Blackman. They write extraordinary, psychologically acute books for teenagers that give them access to truths that adults are sometimes too scared to tell them. Burgess’s Junk is about a group of teenage tearaways in Bristol who fall into anarchism and heroin addiction. It deals with issues that teenagers may be experiencing in life for the first time, but deals with them in the safe environment of the pages of a book. Or his Nicholas Dane, loosely based on Oliver Twist but set in care homes in Manchester. Just as Dickens dealt with the reality of his times, this book exposes its readers to present-day reality, and therefore has a greater resonance for them.
I’m not saying that teenage readers shouldn’t tackle Dickens. It is not an either/or. But if we only give them Dickens, or other books that adults think are “good” or “appropriate” for them, then we are potentially missing an opportunity to instill in them that vital habit of reading for pleasure.
There is a balance to be struck, and this goes to the heart of the current debate about whether a canon of classics needs to be imposed on teenage students in our schools. Some say that this proposal is wrong, that the way to get them reading for pleasure is to give them complete freedom to choose. Others say that without a knowledge of the classics, they are being failed by the education system because they will miss out not only on great literature, but also on a vital part of their own cultural identity and heritage.
Perhaps the way forward is to remove the barriers between teenage fiction and the classics, to acknowledge that both have their role in encouraging reading for pleasure, and that those roles may overlap. The national curriculum today gives great leeway in choosing the books that are to be studied, but what that tends to mean is that the selection now falls not to examiners or ministers, nor to pupils, but to their teachers.
To make the most of these freedoms, teachers need to know about teenage writing. They must seize on the work of a new generation of writers for teenagers as a priceless teaching resource. Sadly, the Times Education Supplement’s recent survey of teachers’ top 100 books suggests that their knowledge of new writing is patchy. To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men remain the unimaginative staple diet for many.
This is where school librarians need to come to the curriculum’s rescue. As schools’ resident book experts, school librarians have never been so important as they will be in the next 18 months, as teachers look for support in finding the books that will teach the new curriculum.
The resources we have to inspire young people’s reading are greater and more profound than ever before. If we make the most of them, the results will be extraordinary for individuals and for society. And for the disadvantaged young people the NLT works with, reading is no less than a lifeline.

Jonathan Douglas will appear with authors Malorie Blackman, Melvin Burgess and Hayley Long at the Telegraph Hay Festival on May 30 at 5.30pm in a question time session for young-adult fiction fans.

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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Thank you

Thanks to our generous supporters we were able to give books this month to some new recipients:  one, a mother and baby refuge where the books ranged from first reading books for children under two to a set of Roald Dahl classics and text books for older children told us that  "The children are over the moon."
There was also much excitement in the Springboard Room  at Harris Academy in Peckham-- the first secondary school that Springboard has worked in-- when their new books arrived from Give a Book. The children are really enjoying them, especially First Greek Myths and the Quentin Blake Collection. So a big thank you to all those who share our belief that to give a book is a transaction of value and enable us to do just that.
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Sunday, 21 April 2013

World Book Night

St George's Day, Shakespeare's Birthday and World Book Night are on April 23rd. We're thrilled and honoured that Give a Book has been selected as a recipient for books by one of the WBN Givers, Sage Publications. They have chosen 3 of our partner charities to receive a generous helping of books: Maggie's Centre, First Story and Age UK.  Thank you thank you to all at Sage Pub from all of us at Give a Book for thinking of us. And all power to World Book Night .
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Thursday, 28 March 2013

We need a new Language for Mental Health


The wonderful Reader Organisation is calling for a new language to talk about mental health, with senior health professionals, readers and writers discussing the idea in the opening session of the charity’s annual conference, ‘Shared Reading for Healthy Communities’ at the British Library on 16th May 2013.

Unlike the growing number of ‘Books on Prescription’ and ‘Bibliotherapy’ schemes, The Reader Organisation, which is commissioned by health services across the UK, has chosen not to limit the description of its model as ‘therapy’. Literature exists to address the human condition.

Jane Davis, The Reader Organisation’s founder and director, says:

“Those medical words – prescription, therapy – which at first glance carry a medical imprimatur of seriousness, have largely come from the pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic industries, and actually point to a re-positioning of the inner life as a problem to be solved by experts, by others.”
 Working with health, library, education, adult social care services and other bodies, The Reader Organisation provided 92,400 unique shared reading experiences in 2012. The personalised model, which enables even non-readers to join in as everything is read aloud in the group, is now backed up with strong qualitative and quantitative evidence from researchers.

At the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust in Liverpool, patients are currently taking part in a shared reading group as part of a chronic pain research project, the initial findings of which will be revealed at the conference.
Dr Andrew Jones, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, at the hospital, says:

“Early indications are showing that the reading group is making a difference to people in our hospital but there is something intangible, a deeper impact beyond that, which we can’t measure using existing qualitative research methods.”

The conference will also explore how the benefits of the shared reading model extends beyond the traditional definition of ‘health’, addressing issues of reoffending, isolation, community cohesion, and reading for pleasure with young people.

A group member at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, said:

“The reading group has boosted my self-esteem and given me more self-confidence when I have discussions with staff and in general; it has encouraged me to read more in my spare-time, which has released a lot of stress off my shoulders as I have been suffering from depression.”

“Great literature connects people. There’s nothing more ancient, nor more deeply healing than that”, states Jane Davis.
“But we increasingly feel the pressure to talk about our work in medicalised terms - intervention, service, outcomes – terms which limit the power of what humanly it is that is making the difference. I want to find a new language, so that people don’t have to say, ‘I’m sick’, when they’re suffering the human condition.”

For more information on the ‘Shared Reading for Health Communities’ conference visit:  www.thereader.org.uk/conference

For more information, please contact Lizzie Cain, Communications Assistant: lizziecain@thereader.org.uk / 0151 207 7228

Members of the Give a Book team will be there. Why not join us? Now go back to Give a Book.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

More news from inside...


The Prison Reading Groups that we give books to choose their titles. Here are accounts of 3 groups: we’re delighted to get feedback so thank you, PRG for sending them in. Biggest thanks go to everyone who gives to GIVE A BOOK so that this can continue to happen.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In general this book was a hit, and has tempted our members to read the two sequels.

Is this a serious political satire or pure entertainment?

One member thought the parallels with 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!' were striking, especially when prizes or presents are parachuted down to the various 'contestants'.

Another felt that the story had a worryingly serious side to it:
‘a sadly apt indictment of the human need for blood sport…the monitoring described in this book is eerily within reach’
On the other hand we all agreed that Katniss was mostly concerned with winning, rather than subverting the system politically – making this book, on the whole, a light read.

The process of meeting challenges and trying to overcome them is a constant theme here. Does the story make it easy for us to relate to this?
'the ongoing arrival of challenges and the determination to overcome them is an inspirational element’
‘this story could help us to stand up to oppression’
I was concerned that, as readers, we were being asked to accept that the rules could be changed so drastically and purely for dramatic effect. But another member  thought that this was expressly to show the privileges of a draconian regime.

How much do we care about Katniss and Peeta's relationship? Do we want to find out what happens next?

We discussed the conceit of the main characters having to perform in front of millions of viewers and how that affects our perception of them and their 'true' feelings for each other. This didn't seem to deter other members:
‘I had to read the other two books very quickly in order to find out’
‘I couldn't help but get emotionally involved’

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Like most groups on the out, the men at this HMP are keen to read the books people are talking about. So it was no surprise when they chose Yann Martell’s Life of Pi, the Man Booker winner and now a blockbuster film.

The story recounts the terrifying adventures of an Indian teenager who is trapped on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a 450-lb Bengal tiger.

Our discussion was lively, alert and full of surprises. The first member who spoke put us all on our mettle:
‘I thought it was pretty absurd – 227 days on a 26-ft lifeboat: pah! - until I got to the final section and realised what the ‘real story’ was and what the tiger actually meant. It all made sense then and now I think it’s brilliant’
Others were frankly gobsmacked by his explanation:
‘This has turned the book upside down for me’
‘It’s really blown my mind’
From here, the speculation began. If Pi’s ‘real story’ is the one hinted at the end, is the account of the tiger a lie or a way of getting at the deep meaning of what happened? One member had made a note of something said early on in the book and thought it might be at the heart of what the novel is doing. He gave us the page reference, then read it out:
‘That’s what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selective transforming of reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence.’
Another member talked about being new to prison and finding it a tough experience. For him the book was a real help:
‘When I was reading it, I was in India, on the Pacific Ocean, in Canada – and not in here’
At the same time, he also commented on points of contact:
‘Of course they’re different, but I found analogies -  between Pi’s fear of the tiger and what it feels like when you first come into prison’
We finished up the session by reading Blake’s 'Tyger': The verdict:
‘What a scorcher!’

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor:
 a very mixed response. Many hated it, which made for a good discussion. One member was very concerned by the decision of the pregnant girl not to tell the father of her child, and the rest agreed with him (I argued that she was letting the chap off the hook, but they didn’t agree). The highlights were the comparison which one man made with photography, and how it can make the ordinary extraordinary through e.g. juxtaposition: a perfect analogy for this book. Also, the pastiche sent in by absentee member – done with a lovely witty touch.
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Monday, 4 March 2013

World Book Day


Thursday 7th March is World Book Day.
It's the biggest and best book show on earth, so join in,  celebrate and share the power of reading.
And then you can go back to Give a Book.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Here, they don't have to be prisoners...


There was an interesting account by Ros Coward in The Guardian 15th January 2013 of one of the Prison Reading Groups. We quote from it below.
'The reading group in Wandsworth jail offers offenders a welcome escape from their restricted lives
Wandsworth prison is an ominous place with its dark brickwork, iconic gates and perimeter walls topped by billowing rolls of barbed wire. The prison library, however, looks a bit like a comfy community library.
I'm here at the invitation of academics Jenny Hartley and Sarah Turvey who have been running volunteer reading groups in Wandsworth and other prisons for the last 13 years. Recent policy has prioritised vocational qualifications for prisoners. But Turvey sees the groups as equally vital. "The majority of prisoners have had negative experiences of school and are wary of formal education in prison," she says. "We're helping prisoners develop skills they need before they can even think about qualifications."
Tonight, Turvey and Niamh Fahey, the assistant librarian, are running a group for 14 high-security prisoners. Fahey unlocks them from the individual cells they have been in since 5pm the previous evening. They bring with them their book of the week, Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English.
Turvey invites responses from the group. John, older and educated, gives a precis. "The book is depressing," he says. "This kid comes to England to find a quieter life but ends up in worse turmoil."
Stephen, a slight young man, says he found it compelling and redolent of the Damilola Taylor case. "The descriptions of the estate made me laugh. They were just like where I live. But it wasn't always easy to tell who was speaking."
This theme is taken up by an exceptionally well-spoken young man. Although he had "never experienced the world of gangs", he found the way the boy had to hide behind a tough facade illuminating. But he disliked the "false naivety" of the protagonist. A bespectacled middle-aged man concurs. "I couldn't work the boy out. He was integrated well enough to have picked up the slang, but at other moments he seems totally naive, as if he's just off the boat." Pause. "If you'll forgive the expression."
A discussion breaks out about the use of patois in the book. "I'm from up north," says one, "and I found it excluding." "Well, I'm from the north too," says John, a Geordie, "but I didn't have so much difficulty. That's because I've had several black cellmates." Paul, who is black, says he could identify with how people got caught up in these gangs but wasn't engaged by the book. "Personally, I didn't like it, " says Omar, "even though it was about someone struggling to fit in. I couldn't follow the narrative. It was more like a series of short stories."
I look round the group, wondering how they had ended up here. "It's something we never ask ourselves," says Turvey. "For one hour in these groups they don't have to be prisoners, they can be readers."
A theme emerges. They are fed up with what they call "boy books", especially those connected to news stories. "The Damilola case was tragic," says John, "but we've reached saturation point with all these plays and books. Maybe it's just because we're in prison, but it seems to get thrown in your face."
Peter agrees. "Books like these don't take you out of yourself," he says. "It's the whole business of books these days, they are so lightweight. I think the authors are running out of ideas. So many are based on historical fact rather than what you'd imagine an author should take inspiration from. If they were to write about a couple of people who went into the woods and had a Socratic dialogue, that wouldn't be so popular. They are only interested in what's in the news. But for this to get on the Booker shortlist! I mean, compare this with Midnight's Children, how could you ever put them in the same category?"
The rest of the group listens respectfully. "One of our only rules," says Sarah, "is they should wait their turn. But it's never enforced because it never arises. They always listen to each other's opinion."
Peter says he keeps coming "because it's an opportunity to talk about something other than crime or sport or whatever you talk about in the cell, which tends to be very matter-of-fact. Fabio Capello [former England football manager] says you only need 200 words to get by in English football. Well, you only need 100 in prison."
"You're right," says Stephen, "all the conversations in prison are just banal. No one has a standpoint. Here, you can have an argument and hear other people's point of view."
"It's lovely to see people relax," says Fahey, the librarian, who says it is her favourite part of the job. "The prison is full of tension. But there's never any friction here. That's quite special. It's an oasis."
The skills that emerge in reading groups, says Hartley, are respect for others' opinions, learning to express oneself, and overcoming aggression. "Listening to each other's opinions," says Hartley, "is about learning you can disagree but remain friends. All sorts of arguments come out from a book or character. That's what literature is for."
Turvey and Hartley hope more prison authorities will recognise the value of their groups in promoting those all-important "soft skills". But their motivation clearly goes deeper. "I love it," says Hartley. "It gives me such a buzz. This is something which matters to them, so it matters to me."'
Give a Book is delighted to be supporting these groups. Now go back to the Give a Book Home Page.




Monday, 14 January 2013

How reading Shakespeare lights up your life.

Scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University have found that reading the works of Shakespeare and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection. This fascinating and important new study  is described in an article in The Telegraph quoted below.
'Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and others. They then “translated” the texts into more “straightforward”, modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words. Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.
Scientists were able to study the brain activity as it responded to each word and record how it “lit up” as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure. This “lighting up” of the mind lasts longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear, encouraging further reading.
The research also found that reading poetry, in particular, increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with “autobiographical memory”, helping the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they have read. The academics said this meant the classics were more useful than self-help books.
Professor Philip Davis,  who has worked on the study with the university’s magnetic resonance centre, will tell a conference this week: “Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain. The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”
In the first part of the research, the brain activity of 30 volunteers was monitored as they read passages from Shakespeare plays, including King Lear, Othello, Coriolanus and Macbeth, and again as they read the text rewritten in simpler form. While reading the plain text, normal levels of electrical activity were displayed in their brains. When they read Shakespeare, however, the levels of activity “jumped” because of his use of unfamiliar words.
In one example, volunteers read a line from King Lear: “A father and a gracious aged man: him have you madded”. They then read a simpler version: “A father and a gracious aged man: him you have enraged.” Shakespeare’s use of the adjective “mad” as a verb sparked a higher level of brain activity than the straightforward prose.
The study went on to test how long the effect lasted. It found that the “peak” triggered by the unfamiliar word was sustained onto the following phrases, suggesting the striking word had hooked the reader, with their mind “primed for more attention”.
Working with psychologists at the university, the next phase of the research is looking at the extent to which poetry can provide therapeutic benefit, using the work of, among others William Wordsworth, Henry Vaughan, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes.
Volunteers' brains have been scanned while reading four lines by Wordsworth: “She lived unknown and few could know, when Lucy ceased to be. But she is in her grave and oh, the difference to me.”
Four “translated” lines were also provided: “She lived a lonely life in the country, and nobody seems to know or care, but now she is dead, and I feel her loss.” The first version caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.
The brain shows minimal activity when the text is translated into 'modern' prose.
Intense activity is this area of the brain suggests that the poetry triggers “reappraisal mechanisms” causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences in light of what they read.
“Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Professor Davis, who will present the findings at the North of England education conference in Sheffield next week. “This is the argument for serious language in serious literature for serious human situations, instead of self-help books or the easy reads that merely reinforce predictable opinions and conventional self-images.”
Professor Davis hopes to scan the brains of volunteers reading Charles Dickens to test if revisions the writer made to his prose spark greater brain activity than the original text.
He is also working with the charity The Reader Organisation to establish reading aloud groups in GP drop-in centres, care homes, prisons, libraries, schools and mother and toddler groups.
Joint research with University College London will also study the effects of reading in dementia sufferers.
An earlier article by Prof. Davis  The Shakespeared Brain  concludes: "In that case Shakespeare's art would be no more and no less than the supreme example of a mobile, creative and adaptive human capacity, in deep relation between brain and language. It makes new combinations, creates new networks, with changed circuitry and added levels, layers and overlaps. And all the time it works like the cry of ‘action’ on a film-set, by sudden peaks of activity and excitement dramatically breaking through into consciousness. It makes for what William James said of mind in his Principles of Psychology, ‘a theatre of simultaneous possibilities’. This could be a new beginning to thinking about reading and mental changes."'
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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Report from Prison Reading Group

We're delighted that we'll be getting regular reports from the Prison Reading Groups that we're supporting.  Here's the first, from HMP Bullingdon on George Orwell's 1984.
"The main character is Winston Smith, a civil servant who lives alone in a world where Big Brother – the state – rigidly controls everything: the laws, the media, everything. Every room in every building has a telescreen that can simultaneously transmit and receive. And nothing, not even a wink, is ever missed.
Winston’s job at the Ministry of Truth requires him to falsify historical documents on orders from BB. When the Ministry of Plenty decides to reduce the chocolate ration from 30g to 25g per week, Winston has to alter the old records and newspaper articles to make it look like the original ration was only ever 20g. Now the Ministry can claim it has INCREASED the allowance!
Winston is plagued by the lies but knows that even if anybody else felt as he does, they could never show it. Dissent is not tolerated by BB, and people are sometimes removed and never seen again.
Citizens are expected to love BB and are required to attend a regular ‘Two Minute Hate’, a message from the revolutionary leader broadcast to an audience over a giant telescreen. It includes shots of the enemy of the moment and people are encouraged to boo and hiss at the screen. Strangely, even Winston feels the urge to join in.
But it’s here too that Winston meets Julia, the girl he falls in love with, and O’Brien, who reveals himself as an enemy to BB. He also gives Winston a copy of ‘the book’, which denounces the power politics of the state.
Both love and the book turn out to be powerful and dangerous and Winston pays a heavy price.
This strange and exciting new life comes crashing down on Winston when the Thought Police smash their way into the secret room and drag him behind the impenetrable walls of the Ministry of Love for interrogation. It’s here that he is forced to face his greatest fear: ROOM 101
The book is thought-provoking. It’s also many different things to different people. It’s a love story, but also a story of betrayal on so many levels. It raises questions of freedom, political ideology and the duty of both the state and its citizens.
They say that every man has a breaking point. Does Winston live or die? Does he get the girl? Who wins? I’m not going to tell you that. But if it were me: would I roll over? Would I be a sheep? Or would I die fighting? The answer is: BAA!
But maybe that’s just me...the power of the state is scary.
Some members thought they’d read it before but then realised it was just because so much of the book is so familiar – Big Brother, Room 101, the power of surveillance. In any case it created a lively debate:
• This book becomes more relevant with each passing year • I’m young and when I read it on my own it didn’t seem relevant to me. I didn’t get past page 20. But listening to you lot talking, I’m keen to try it again.
• Was Julia (the girl) an agent provocateur or did she really love Winston? • Does this book warn us against communism?
And the one that summed it up for our group: • This book is a modern classic and a must read!"
The Bullingdon group is part of the Prison Reading Groups project. And this report also appeared in Inside Time January 2013.
Thanks for sending it. We love to hear from you.
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