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Happy World Book Day!

March 7, 2013

Dracula celebrates World Book Day in with a great costume and his favourite book

Happy World Book Day to all our readers!

World Book Day 2013 is being celebrated in great style, with lots of great book events happening in the UK, as well as an online festival that can be caught from anywhere in the world. ‘The Biggest Book Show on Earth’ is happening for one hour only, 11am-12pm today, featuring nine big name bestselling authors and illustrators, including Liz Pichon, Francesca Simon and Anthony Horowitz. A show not to be missed! As ever, school kids can also get their hands on £1 World Book Day tokens which will allow them to get one of eight special World Book Day titles for free or money off a wide range of other books and audiobooks.

It’s the perfect day to pick up a book, and one ideal choice is A Little, Aloud for Children. There’s plenty of great stories to share, all packed into its pages. If you’ve been enjoying a Little, Aloud for Children for a while now, or if you’re just discovering it in just in time for World Book Day, why not tell us about your favourite bits over on our A Little, Aloud blog? We’d love to know what you’ve been reading, and who you’ve been reading it with. Perhaps you’re even celebrating World Book Day by dressing up as one of the characters in the stories – maybe a Mr Toad or even a certain gentleman named Dracula?

Of course, World Book Day is just as much for adults as it is for kids. Though we’re certain that grown-ups will love A Little, Aloud for Children, there’s lots of brilliant stuff in A Little, Aloud too – a book so full it’s guaranteed to keep you going for well more than a day.

To start you off on your celebration of all things books, here’s some of our team having lots of fun reading ‘The Secret’ from A Little, Aloud for Children to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, which took place yesterday:

Happy reading!

Guest blog: Helena Pielichaty, Patron of Reading

January 15, 2013

We have a special guest writer on the blog today, children’s author Helena Pielichaty. She is the Patron of Reading at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in Denbighshire and was recently featured (along with A Little, Aloud for Children!) on BBC Wales Today.

I am a children’s writer and an important part of that, for me, is visiting schools and libraries. I love doing visits as they bring back all the happy memories I had from my teaching days. For me, the best memories of all come from the times we just read; either me reading to the class or all of us reading our own books in silence. Magic.  However, I’ve noticed on my school visits that many schools have misguidedly dropped the class reader through ‘lack of time’. How sad is that?

patron-school-pupilsOne school that wasn’t like that was Ysgol Esgob Morgan. ‘You’ll like this lot,’ Bethan Hughes, the head of Denbighshire Library Services told me as we waited for Y6 to arrive at St Asaph Library. She wasn’t wrong; they were fabulous. The children were keen, motivated readers who lapped up everything I gave them. At the end of the session it was obvious that their teacher, Tim Redgrave, was largely responsible for their positive response. Talk about enthusiastic! I’ve done hundreds of sessions in schools, before and since, but that was one of the best. So when I received an email from Tim at the end of 2010 telling me he’d had this idea about a patron of reading and asking me if I’d take on the role, I didn’t hesitate.

It’s a wonderful idea and I share Tim’s vision that every school should have one. The joy of the initiative is that it’s about helping schools to create life-long readers. Children who’ll willingly go to the library, choose a book, lose themselves in it, tell their mates about it, then go back for more. It’s also cheap. Apart from paying my fees as a school would for any author visit, there’s no cost involved. Schools who’ve ever had an author visit will know what impact that one hour or day can have; imagine if you had your own, special author for three years!  ‘Magic dust that lasts’ indeed.

The school has to be behind the project wholeheartedly for it to work, as does the patron. Luckily Tim has an amazing staff, headed by Lit Co Jenny Ritchie whose classroom is always a pleasure to enter. Last time I visited there was a display of giants on the wall as a result of a book I’d sent at Christmas (The Giant Book of Giants); the time before that a life-size model of a Tardis.

What’s great is the patron of reading shares many of the aims of The Reader Organisation, something I realised when I first heard Frank CottrellALittleAloud for Children cover online Boyce talking about The Reader Organisation at a conference.  That’s where I first heard about A Little, Aloud for Children, too.  What a great book. I’ve been recommending it to everyone since and chose it to read in front of the TV cameras last week. Stupid, I know. Most writers would have used the opportunity for mass product placement of their own stuff but for me, the patron idea isn’t what it’s all about. I knew A Little, Aloud for Children contains perfect bite-sized extracts ideal for a short reading on t‘telly. ‘The Snooks’ was perfect – just check out the expressions on the kids as I read it to them in assembly. Afterwards, one TA who’d have to leave before I’d finished asked how it ended and the head of governors bought it for her daughters. Any chance of commission?

Click here to watch the full BBC TV news clip.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Patron of Reading initiative, please visit

National Short Story Week

November 14, 2012

National Short Story Week logoThis week, 12th-18th November, is National Short Story Week and we’re proud to announce that A Little, Aloud for Children has been included on the Recommended Reading List for children and young people.

Not only this, but one of our favourite short stories from the anthology, ‘Guess‘, by Philippa Pearce, has been published on the Guardian Children’s Book Website for this week only. ‘Guess’ is a mysterious tale about a strange girl who suddenly appears in Netty Barr’s school when an ancient tree is destroyed in a storm. Who is she? What does she want? Click here to read the story and find out. A new short story will be published on the website each day this week for you to enjoy.

National Short Story Week aims to get more people reading and listening to short stories, something we do lots of here at The Reader Organisation. We work to encourage reading for pleasure through our books and weekly read-aloud groups. Reading aloud is a great way to share the joys of reading with others and short stories are the perfect length to share before bed, on a long car journey, or on a rainy afternoon.

A Little, Aloud for Children includes lots of great short stories, including Michael Morpurgo’s ‘The Silver Swan’, ‘Broken Toys’ by Shaun Tan, and ‘The Girl of Silver Lake’ by Berlie Doherty. Which is your favourite short story? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter (@thereaderorg).

Happy reading!

The Ha’penny Readings are back!

November 13, 2012

The Ha’penny Readings
Sunday 9th December, 2.30pm
Concert Room, St George’s Hall, Liverpool

The Reader Organisation’s family Christmas extravaganza returns to St George’s Hall in Liverpool for a third year running. The Penny Readings have become one of the most anticipated event in Liverpool’s Christmas calendar, and this spin-off for kids is fast becoming just as unmissable. The events are inspired by Charles Dickens himself, who used to tour the country performing readings for the public for just one penny.

This year’s show looks set to be one of the best yet, with comedy from Sticky Floor and reading from Frank Cottrell Boyce, the award-winning author of The Unforgotten Coat, Millions, Cosmic and many more. Music will be provided by the West Everton Junior Strings and Georgina Aasgaard, a cellist with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

As well as all this, A Little, Aloud for Children takes a turn in the spotlight with a special appearance from editor Angela Macmillan, and a poem or two from our young readers and staff. A certain jolly old man with a white beard and red suit has also been seen hanging around the building…

If this afternoon of fun and festive reading sounds like a great way to get the Christmas celebrations started, then why not come and join us? Entry is just one penny (or a half-penny each!) and you can apply for up to four tickets – all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Demand for tickets is high, so they are allocated by a public raffle. For your chance to win tickets, email your details to or call 07812 238 372 before 5pm on Friday 16th November. All winners will be notified by Friday 23rd November.

Good luck!

Round About The Cauldron

October 26, 2012

It’s the last day of the school holidays which means it is also the last day of our special A Little, Aloud for Children week here on the blog.

But don’t despair! There’s still exciting things coming over the next few days, including the scare-fest that is Halloween. So to get into the spook spirit, we’ve chosen Round About The Cauldronas today’s A Little, Aloud for Children theme.

This chapter of the book features a very old fairytale, ‘Jorinda and Jorindel’ by the Brothers Grimm, the tale of an evil fairy, a beautiful maiden, and a shepherd lad who meet in a dark and gloomy forest… The accompanying poem is taken from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ and is something that should be read aloud every Halloween –‘The Witches Chant’! Everybody knows those classic lines:

Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble.

If you live in the Wirral area, then you can come along to one of our free Haunted Library events next week where you can enjoy terrifying readings of every kind at Beechwood or Seacombe Libraries – call 0151 650 5466 for more information.

Monday 29th October, Seacombe Library, 3.30-4.30pm
Tuesday 30th October, Beechwood Library, 3.30-5pm

A mysterious visitor, who may well turn up at these Haunted Libraries, was recently caught reading a copy of A Little, Aloud for Children – any guesses who it might be?

This guy has to be one of the scariest characters in literature – what do you think? Get in touch and share your favourite spooky stories in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing some terrifying tales….


October 25, 2012

We’re nearly at the end of half term and our special A Little, Aloud for Children week. Tomorrow, we’re going to get into the scary mood looking ahead to Halloween, so we thought we’d do the opposite today and create some Angels.

Angels is one of the last sections in A Little, Aloud for Children and features the short story ‘Angel to Angel’, by Annie Dalton, about Melanie, a teenage trainee angel who is sent on a mission to rescue a valuable saint by ‘The Agency’. This story is accompanied by the beautiful poem ‘Angels’ by Jan Dean , which paints a picture of power, majesty and awe and is wonderfully atmospheric to read aloud:

We shine, speak our messages and go,
Back to brilliance

Over the summer, we held two events celebrating A Little, Aloud for Children with our young readers who helped create the book and at BBC Radio Merseyside with Up For Arts. We read ‘Angels’ at both of these celebrations and were inspired to get crafty and create our own angels! Take a look at some of them below and why not design an angel of your own?

What a glorious throng! We’d love to see your angels – get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. Today we’re also asking “Which literary character would you like as your guardian angel?” Let us know what you think and don’t forget to join us tomorrow for some Halloween horrors…

Being Teacher

October 24, 2012

Welcome to Wednesday, the half way point of our A Little, Aloud for Children half term. School might be closed for a week, but Being Teacher is something we’ve been thinking about a lot here at The Reader Organisation, so that’s our theme for today.

Our mission to build a Reading Revolution, bringing great literature and people together by sharing reading for pleasure. School is one of the places where reading can make a big impact – everyone can remember a teacher who made a difference to their lives and introduced them to some great books. Being read to is relaxing, entertaining, and often leaves a lasting impression. A recent study suggested that reading for pleasure is more important determinant of a child’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

So we know how important reading for pleasure is for children, but what about the teachers that teach them? These are the people who can have a huge influence on their pupils and their enjoyment of reading, so shouldn’t they be reading for pleasure too? That’s where The Reader Organisation comes in! We are in the second year of a groundbreaking project with Liverpool Hope University. All first year QTS Education Students, who will go on to become primary school teachers, have a timetabled slot each week for shared reading, inspiring them with a genuine passion for reading for pleasure, which they can then pass on to the thousands of children who will pass through their care.

The first shared reading groups will be starting tomorrow and we will be reading from A Little, Aloud for Children, a book which is packed full of stories and poems perfect for reading aloud and sharing with young people. Frank Cottrell Boyce, The Reader Organisation’s patron and children’s author, has been appointed Liverpool Hope University’s Professor of Reading, the first such post in the UK. He thrilled staff and students earlier in the term by bringing along Danny Boyle, who worked with him on the Olympic Opening Ceremony, for a special lecture about the books and writers which made them tick. You can find out more about this lecture, and the Hope Readers project, over on the Hope Readers blog.

Meanwhile, the Being Teacher section in A Little, Aloud for Children features Celia Gentle’s hilarious poem, ‘Skimpily Red’, about the horrors of bumping into your teacher in the underwear department! Click here to watch Joe reading the poem aloud.

Frank Cottrell Boyce also makes an appearance in this chapter, with the opening of his novel Cosmic. Here he is reading the first few lines – you’ll have to get your hands on a copy of the book to find out what happens next!

Continuing the theme on Twitter, we’ll be asking which books you think should be on the curriculum? Please join the debate and share your thoughts on this, and your reading experiences in school, on Twitter, on Facebook or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Sailing Away

October 23, 2012

It’s the second day of half term and we’ve decided Tuesday should have a nautical theme – it’s Sailing Away.

Maybe you’ll be doing some travelling this week, visiting friends or family or going on a little holiday? Reading is a great way to make long journeys more interesting and enjoyable, especially reading aloud with others who are travelling with you.

The Sailing Awaychapter in A Little, Aloud for Children, features an extract from Roger McGough’s The Stowaways. Two children set off in the dead of night to run away to sea, a journey which could take days, or even months, but their idea doesn’t quite go to plan, and they find themselves home again in time for breakfast.

On the other hand,  ‘The Jumblies’ in Edward Lear’s poem of the same name certainly do make it out to sea and stay away for twenty years. Here are Charlotte and Ian reading the poem aloud:


What an adventure! Which book would you pack with you on a voyage across the sea? Let us know on Twitter (@thereaderorg) or in the comments section below. Happy travelling!

Charming Creatures

October 22, 2012

To celebrate half term, we’re choosing a different theme from A Little, Aloud for Children each day this week and we’re kicking things off with Charming Creatures!

In this chapter of A Little, Aloud for Children, Rudyard Kipling tells the story of How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, a tale of itchy cake crumbs, whilst Patrick Barrington discovers that it’s not easy to keep a hippopotamus in a shed in his poem I Had a Hippopotamus.

If you’ve got a copy of the book, or another favourite story or poem about an animal, why not give it a read? Or, better yet, find a charming creature to read it aloud with! We’ve already found a few perusing pets around The Reader Organisation’s offices…

Milo enjoys reading at his desk

Dink studies ‘catkido’ to perfect her skills

Hedwig gets up close with The Gruffalo

Harley likes to read his books in the great outdoors

Poppy snuggles up to read in bed

Who knew animals loved reading so much? Do you know a charming creature who enjoys a good story or poem? We’d love to see them! Send us your photos through Twitter, @thereaderorg, on our Facebook page, or by emailing them to Chantel:

Happy reading!

Half term with A Little, Aloud for Children

October 22, 2012

Happy half term!

There’s a whole week of fun and games to be had, so what better way to spend it than by reading and letting your imagination run wild?

Every day this week we will be choosing a different theme from A Little, Aloud for Children to keep us entertained and make the most of the wonderful stories and poems in the book.

There will be lots of ways for you to join the fun, whether by answering our quizzes on Twitter, sending us your photos and comments or by reading along at home with your friends and family.

To give you a head start, here’s what the week is going to look like:

MondayCharming Creatures

TuesdaySailing Away

WednesdayBeing Teacher


FridayRound About the Cauldron

What an exciting week! We hope you can join us each day and share the joys of reading aloud.