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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.


Children’s Book Week

October 1, 2012

Today marks the start of national Children’s Book Week: the annual celebration of reading for pleasure for children of primary school age that has been running for the past 80 years. Running from 1st-7th October, the theme of this year’s celebrations will be ‘Heroes and Heroines’. The BookTrust website has this introduction to the festivities, which explains how teachers, librarians, parents and others can get involved.

One perfect way of celebrating Children’s Book Week yourself is by reading aloud with a child or young person that you care for: and what better book to do this with than A Little, Aloud for Children?! The Reader Organisation’s latest publication is a collection of some of the greatest children’s literature from past to present, carefully selected for its success in being read aloud with young readers.

If you wanted to get into this years’ book week theme, there’s plenty of great choices to be found in the book: from Tom Sawyer and Toad of Toad Hall, to Ruby and Garland from Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act, the anthology is filled with literary heroes and heroines of every description!

The Reader Organisation’s promotion of reading  with children and young people goes beyong this week, however, and if you want to join-in with the reading aloud fun beyond Children’s Book Week, why not come along to the Family Reading Day that is part of the Manchester Literary Festival this year? On Sunday 21st October, staff from The Reader Organisation will be setting-up shop in the Market Place of the Manchester Town Hall Reception Room for a day of live interactive readings from A Little, Aloud for Children and discussions about reading for pleasure with young people. You can find out about this and all the other exciting events taking place on the day on the MLF website. Hope to see you there!