World Book Day – It’s not just for kids

A book can open up a new world, it can provide a window into the life of a stranger, it can delight and frustrate in equal measure.

As we enter World Book Day, and marvel at young children dressed up as Harry Potter or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, let us reflect on the power of the written word.  The importance of developing the reading bug in children has been talked about for a very long time, children that read do better at school.

What about adults?

It is well known that reading for pleasure has a significant number of benefits for adults. When you lose yourself in a story it can reduce stress, expand your vocabulary, improve memory, build stronger analytical skills, improve concentration skills and can even slow the progress of dementia/Alzheimer’s.

book clubTwo years ago the Centre set out to see whether we could run a reading group to encourage reading for pleasure. The group meets once a week, reads a book and discusses it together.  The original learners wanted to read aloud, sometimes they chose to read at home, but for more difficult books we would read exclusively at the reading group.  The participants have reported that it has increased their vocabulary, improved their reading fluency, enabled them to tackle difficult books and allowed them to express their fears, frustration and hopes in a safe space.  One participant spoke movingly about her traumatic childhood, whilst everyone else sat and listened.  It was a clearly cathartic experience that enabled her to start healing from the pain of her past.  We have read Quick Reads by world famous authors such as Jeffrey Archer and Lynda LaPlante as well as the classic, Animal Farm by George Orwell.  They have sometimes loved the book and at other times have expressed incredulity or dissatisfaction.  Most of the participants originate from all over the world, but every Tuesday they sit together and share in the experience and benefits of reading.

Looking back on our decision to set up this reading group, all I can say is…

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.’ A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Yusuf Patel

Adult Learning and Development Officer