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Dear Reader…

All of the A Little, Aloud anthologies are created with you and your loved ones in mind, and we hope that as you read from the books together that special things happen – whether it be the recollection of a memory or the revelation of something new.

This page is the place that you can come to share your stories of reading any of the books, including our newest anthology A Little, Aloud with Love. Wherever and whenever you read, whoever you read with, we would love to hear all of your wonderful thoughts, comments and stories.

Many thanks, and happy reading …

Tell  Us Your Stories

As soon as A Little, Aloud became a real thing and went out into the world, people began to tell us how they would put it to use and I wished that we had included a message inside the book asking readers to get in touch about where, when and to whom they had been reading aloud.  Thanks to the wonder that is the on line social network it is not too late and we have set up this website in order for you to tell us your stories.

We want to know all about your experience of reading and using the anthology. We would love to know which of the stories and poems you have read out loud; how you found that experience and how the person or people you read to received them.  As well as shared reading we will then be sharing the experience of reading together.

Whether you have been reading to a friend or partner, to someone in hospital or in a care home, or perhaps a reading group, we hope that reading aloud together – sharing the stories and poems has given you something you might not have found in private reading.  If so please write about it here.

Angela Macmillan

39 Comments leave one →
  1. j clark permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:12 pm

    a beautiful book … It works incredibly well and was appreciated in my household by both reader and listener … we alternate roles in fact! We’ll be giving a few as Christmas presents this year.

  2. J Dymond permalink
    November 2, 2010 4:51 pm

    Last weekend I sat with my Mum over breakfast and read to her from A Little, Aloud. There is something about the quiet of the early morning, and the secrecy of knowing we are the only ones awake. It is a time when we really have the space to talk to each other before the business of the day takes over.

    As I read the extract from Great Expectations my Mum closed her eyes and now and again gave a little nod of her head. I finished and we sat in silence and then my mum said,

    “I should read that book again – they are good words those, aren’t they?”

    I had to smile. Yes, yes they are.

  3. mavis Mcd. permalink
    November 8, 2010 3:40 pm

    Charge of the Light Brigade was the page I chose to read to my Brother.. he aso read this, then we compared, reading techniques. most enjoyable. will be reading more. great idea.!

    • November 23, 2010 2:46 pm

      Hello Mavis,

      Did you chose The Charge of the Light Brigade because it was a familiar poem? There is a wonderful recording of Tennyson himself reading the poem. It is so old that the recording sounds as if he was actually on the field of battle with the Light Brigade hurtling by. You can find it at Poetry Archive

      Let us know what else you and your brother have found good to read aloud.


  4. November 10, 2010 9:26 am

    I’m working on a project organised by Arts for Health Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, using the arts in stroke rehabilitation – see

    I have been reading poetry a lot and scribing poems for patients but the reading of stories is a useful alternative, especially for patients who can’t sit up or speak very easily. Yesterday, from ‘A Little Aloud’, I read the Katherine Mansfield story to one lady over 90 – she finds it hard to talk but throughout smiled and nodded – she didn’t have a doll’s house herself but whispered she had dolls – she told me she felt ‘carried along and carried away’ listening to the story. I read the Tobias Wolff story to a gentleman who also finds talking very tiring – whenever I paused wondering whether it was taking too much concentration, he nodded to me to continue and then smiled and visibly relaxed at the end.

    I’ll definitely use the book again

    • November 23, 2010 2:55 pm

      It is very interesting to know of and hear about your project. Shared reading is all about human connection; your stories about how smiling and nodding can work so eloquently in this respect were an inspiration.

      Do keep in touch and tell us more about your work


  5. Lesley Mitchell permalink
    November 10, 2010 11:50 am

    I was given the book as a gift from a friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading what I call my “Little Nugget of Gold”. It has been particularly useful to us as a family. My eldest daughter is currently in her 2nd year of “A” level study (Eng Lit) & we regularly use it to Compare & Contrast the peotry & prose.

    I feel it’s a great introduction to the written word, especially for people who are not accustomed to the pleasure of Reading; it acts as a “Literal Hook”. I particularly enjoyed the extract from “Great Expectations”, a good taster to the Classics.

    Looking forward to the sequel

    • November 23, 2010 2:58 pm

      We are so enjoying hearing about the different ways in which the book is working. You are not the first to say that reading an extract from a novel has persuaded people to go on and read the whole book. We like being ‘a hook’


  6. Andrew Collinge permalink
    November 14, 2010 6:46 pm

    A Little, Aloud is a wonderful book. The person I have been reading it to has recently lost her sight but has always loved reading; therefore you can imagine the frustration she is now feeling. A little, Aloud has given her great joy. Each story and the poem that concludes it are thought provoking and always result in us reminiscing . Also, I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading A Little, Aloud and have now found myself introduced to authors and poets I would previously not really been that aware of .”

    • November 23, 2010 3:03 pm

      How right you are to ask us to imagine the frustration of not being able to read a book when it has been a life-long habit. Audio books have their place but nothing beats the intimacy and companionship of having someone you care about read to you, because they care about you. Keep up the good work for as you rightly point out, there are benefits to both reader and listener.


  7. Ali Desovska permalink
    November 22, 2010 10:33 am

    Hi, I am reading through the book with two of my groups. This week at the day centre for physically disabled we looked at the cats section, and it provoked so much discussion and laughter, it seemed everyone was a owned by a cat (never the other way round we agreed!). Next week it’s TSElliot. Marion said at the end of the session “That was a most delightful morning, I so look forward to Thursdays now”. With my other group, poeple in recovery from addiction, we have especially enjoyed the ‘Demon Lover’ section, and I had a request from Colin to go on and read The Yellowpaper next as he thought the extract represented a similar neurosis. I love my job!!
    And a request…is there a large print copy available?

    • November 23, 2010 3:12 pm

      Cats: it seems you either love them or loathe them. At any rate I have been astonished at how much feeling and discussion this poem and story have provoked so it is interesting to know that you have found the same. I was plesed to see that you have used the book as a stepping stone to go off to other literary cats and it is surprising how many there are.
      As for you request: unfortunately there is no large print version as yet. But the nice people at Chatto and Windus read this blog, so you never know. I know it is not the same, but they have produced the book with wonderfully clear print, larger than usual and with wider line spacing, to assist us in reading aloud.

      I am not surprised you love your job


  8. January 8, 2011 5:35 pm

    I’ve been reading to my mother for some time now, realising that it has a calming effect upon her – she has dementia – and somehow seems to ground her. We both enjoy it. So when I read about this book I wanted to buy it. Usually I read poetry to my mother. I read as dramatically as I can and she loves it, and I have felt that it’s the cadences and rhythms that she enjoys. Also with poems, it doesn’t matter if she misses a bit; there are phrases and lines that can stand alone and bring her pleasure.
    So I was a bit nervous about reading prose to her. I chose the Brian Keenan extract. My mother is Northern Irish, and I hoped that the references to Belfast might hold her attention. A page in, and I was thinking the piece was too long. I kept checking my mother’s face. But she was all rapt attention. I don’t know how much of it she really took in, I believe it is the performance and the close one to one attention that she enjoys the most. Often I read to her after we have eaten. We push the plates aside, and still at the table, seated opposite each other, I read to her for maybe thirty minutes.
    These are probably the most precious moments I have with my mother now. They bring us very close to each other in shared moments of pleasure in words.

  9. Zoe Gilling permalink
    January 12, 2011 5:17 pm

    I bought this book for my Husband’s Grandmother for Christmas (she’s obviously elderly and also in the early stages of dementia). We don’t live nearby so I checked out in advance that her daughter would be happy to read it to her and was thrilled at the weekend when ‘Great Granny Lil’ rang me up to say her daughter had just left the house, they’d just read ‘The Doll’s House’ and she had thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to say thanks straight away for the best xmas present. This was made even more special because the only other time she rings our house is usually by accident when she gets confused.

    I was recently visiting my sister who had not long had a baby along with my Mum, who has as

  10. January 12, 2011 7:22 pm

    I have just succeeded in finding a volunteer who is visiting my mother once a week for an hour and reading to her. The carers where she lives shy away from reading aloud, so this is a wonderful step forward. I live too far away and have too many work commitments to visit as often as I’d like.

    Oh and my mother and I love cats and dogs!

    • Angela Macmillan permalink
      January 13, 2011 9:18 am

      I understand why carers might feel self conscious about reading aloud, but it is a shame when it is clear from stories such as yours and Zoe’s just how beneficial to both reader and listener these “precious moments” can be. Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

  11. Hazel permalink
    January 15, 2011 8:56 am

    Thank you – what a wonderful journey. Seed sown, Times article by Jeanette Winterson; subscription to the Reader (yes, this is for me); purchase of nurturing text A Little, Aloud; affirming Showcase event Birmingham; discussed ideas with my local hospice where I am day care volunteer, received enthusiastic support for small group/one to one reading.
    So yes, tentatively, small group and one to one sessions have begun and the response has been both amazing and humbling. Thank you so much.

    • February 16, 2011 4:01 pm

      What a wonderfully enthusiastic post. It is good to hear that you like The Reader magazine as well. It is not so well known but so worth reading. Every issue includes reports and stories from the Get Into Reading groups as well as new poetry and fiction and essays that are attune to The Reader ethos.

  12. January 23, 2011 5:53 pm

    Just back from a weekend visiting my mother. I began to read the Katherine Mansfield extract about the Dolls’ House. A paragraph or two in and my mother nodded and said, “Oh yes, I remember that.” I carried on reading and by the third page, my mother began to frown and to look down and to her left. I understand this can mean someone is accessing feelings associated with memories.
    Something about the piece had sent her back to her childhood. she spoke about being at the top of a flight of stairs, about being with her brother, about her mother’s death.
    I didn’t finish reading, but listened to my mother. She sounded clearer, her voice stronger. It was a good moment, despite some sad memories.

    • February 17, 2011 1:27 pm

      Sometimes it may simply be the act of sharing a story that triggers memory. If, for example your mother used to read to you when you were little, maybe the story-time itself , albeit with a reversal of readers, is familiar to her and what returns to her is simply the idea of childhood. But maybe not for we can’t be sure how shared reading works, just that it does. You write very movingly about these intimate moments.

  13. Jennifer Robbs permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:35 pm

    I run a Poetry and Reading Group in the Mental Health Unit at our local hospital, I also do some befriending work. I use this lovely book all the time and have recommended it to others who are interested in this type of work. I am the only person running such a group within our local NHS Trust and am keen to see developments as I know first hand of the benefits that such groups provide.

    • February 16, 2011 4:05 pm

      I am glad to hear that the book is proving useful. Don’t miss the ‘Read On’ section at the back which gives suggestions for further reading. Do let us know how your group is going and which stories and poems they have liked best.

  14. Hazel permalink
    March 30, 2011 9:12 pm

    Following on from and updating my previous comments – I am so lucky to be reading as a day care volunteer in my local hospice – there is now an enthusiastic and established ‘Monday group’ (all ladies) and there are 1-1 sessions, on Fridays for anyone who wishes, depending how they’re feeling etc. but it’s not restrictive, more can join in.
    Well, where to begin? You must know but I will repeat, all the stories we’ve shared have promoted interesting, funny, honest, sometimes sad and always thought provoking discussions.
    Which stories and poems have we enjoyed – and repeated (by request) or recommended to others who missed them, promising not to divulge the plot/ending/surprise etc if they could listen again! Two such of these are ‘The Handbag’ and ‘Faith and Hope Go Shopping’. For me as the reader it’s such a privilege to observe the expressions and feel the reactions of the listeners, and we are now so comfortable that comments are made when felt. ‘At the
    End of the Line’ and ‘My Left Foot’ and ‘A Work of Art’ were excellent in this regard. We had all heard of but none of us had read any Chekhov, so a new journey to begin there!
    ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Little Women’, ‘The Railway Children’ and ‘Pickwick Papers’were all welcomed as old friends and enabled escape to comforting happy memories to listeners coming to terms with their present situation. A gentleman who likes mystery stories really enjoyed ‘An Adventure in Norfolk’, ‘The Demon Lover’ and slightly differently ‘Trees can Speak’. He also enjoyed ‘The Doll’s House’ as he and his wife used to make dolls houses together. He the construction, she, all the interior decoration. Again, wonderful memories.
    ‘Is it story time yet? ‘ ‘Oh I’m so glad you’re here … ‘ ‘A Little, Aloud’ lights up faces … thank you again for this wonderful book. Sorry to go on so long and be a bit OTT but it’s made such
    a difference.

    • April 6, 2011 5:03 pm

      No, don’t be sorry. Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to write about your reading experience. We (The Reader Organization) are delighted to hear that the book is of real value. I tried to make it a mix of things, old and new, familiar and surprising and I particularly liked to hear you say that because you had enjoyed many of the stories, you could feel confident that you would like the Chekov.

      I don’t know if you have noticed the list of further reads at the back of the book – just in case you need more stories and poems.


  15. May 2, 2011 8:30 pm

    It’s been a rocky few months with Mother in and out of hospital, broken bones and pneumonia. We anticipated her death at least twice.
    Her dementia made hospital a nightmare. She was constantly distracted and confused. When I visited I took a poetry book and read to her, holding her hand. It wasn’t ‘A Little, Aloud’, but an anthology of verse. The best responses were to W B Yeats He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, and Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat.
    Home, and hovering between life and death, poetry sustained and calmed where conversation struggled. My aunt began to read to her as well, after initially saying she couldn’t read aloud.
    On Easter Sunday I was with my mother in the communal lounge. Staff were busy elsewhere. One of the residents began to push herself backwards in her chair. It looked pretty dangerous. Mainly to try to keep her safe, I asked her to join us and mentioned that my mother and I had been trying to remember some nursery rhymes. We began to go through familiar rhymes – Mary Mary Quite Contrary. Another resident joined us, then another. Another was listening from nearby. I went back to my mother’s flat and got an anthology and read for about thirty minutes until the staff members came back. Mainly they preferred the poems with definite rhymes. John Masefield’s Sea Fever elicited smiles and nods. My mother was alone in liking Yeats.
    Another resident who wasn’t there on that occasion, is an alert and lively octogenarian. I’ve told her about The Reader Organisation and she’s interested, but has no internet access. Where else could she find out about it please?

  16. May 8, 2011 5:57 pm

    I do recognise what you mean by ‘ Home, hovering between life and death’. It is the most intense and emotionally draining experience. I am grateful that you have written about it and am thinking of you. It is interesting that your efforts with poetry are influencing those around you. Obviously you have given your aunt the confidence to read aloud and brought the calm you talk about to other residents too.
    Your octogenarian friend can write to or telephone The Reader Organisation or if you email us with her address, we would be glad to send her some information:
    0151 794 2830
    19, Abercromby Square
    Liverpool L69 7ZG

    Thank you so much for this moving post.

  17. Dawn Varma permalink
    December 3, 2011 2:56 pm

    Is there any hope of a further book? I have been the present one to my severely disabled son both to his pleasure and mine.The length of the extracts is perfect and the poems a delight.

  18. July 3, 2012 9:50 am

    My Junior Book Club read The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd last month and at our meeting I showed them that a passage from the book was used in A Little, Aloud. We agreed to practise our reading aloud each month at our book club meetings and we started immediately with both a section from The London Eye Mystery and the poem that appears with in the ‘Disappearing Acts’ section of A Little, Aloud. I think it’s going to be a great new addition to our monthly meetings and even the shy children will eventually want a go at reading aloud. We’ll use our monthly book club books and I’ll see if I can find poems to complement too and I’ll be recording the future sessions to make a little podcast style piece they can listen back to.

    • Angela Macmillan permalink
      October 7, 2012 2:16 pm

      I am afraid this post slipped through without me noticing and I am sorry, Katie, for not replying much sooner. I was so pleased to learn that you found the anthology helpful. Do let us know more about your monthly book club. Giving shy children the confidence to read aloud is a very good thing. Keep up your valuable work.

  19. caroline ezzat permalink
    October 17, 2012 5:52 pm

    This was a present that I have shared with my own children and the children I teach. My pupils particularly love instructions by Neil Gaiman as it allows them to visualise the text. My two little ones love the jumblies a timeless classic of which I have to read over and over.

  20. Kate Marsden permalink
    November 7, 2012 7:32 pm

    I have been reading to a group of elderly residents in my local residential home run by Methodist Homes since last Christmas. I first heard of the idea on Radio 4 so ordered the book. I have read quite a few of the extracts – but have now ‘branched out’ by taking requests ………..the ladies ( and occasional gentleman) have asked for Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Lorna Doone, and others. Nigel Slater’s excellent autobiography Toast was so successful …….especially the part recalling sweets he had as a child ( I took a few bags of old fashioned sweets with me that day) . Recently we have been sharing Desert Flower by Waris Dirie ( it needed some editing but the tale of a young Somali girl escaping from an arranged marriage was gripping) Tales from behind the Museum by Kate Atkinson is our current book. Choosing suitable extracts takes some time …….but SO well worthwhile.

  21. February 26, 2013 4:09 pm

    I was seeing an elderly lady with Parkinson’s Disease for speech therapy at her care home. Some days her speech was clear while on other days it was unintelligible. She was gradually becoming less active and more withdrawn and unable to participate in speech exercises so I started reading out extracts from A Little Aloud. Even on her poorer days she took an interest and some extracts perked her up and she would make comments. The more interested in a topic and the more she had to say about it, the better her speech became and we would have very interesting conversations. This helped stimulate her and she made some progress. The care staff noted she was more active and easier to understand. It demonstrated what stimulation and a love of literature can do!

  22. January 3, 2015 11:38 am

    I really like the book A Little ALOUD for children a lot because it has given me a chance to read more with my mum. I even have created a place in our house just for reading books and poems, reading this book every night to a member of my family has inproved my cofedence to do things like order my own food in a restaurant like a confident ten year old girl.


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