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Literature

Selfridges - making reading fashionable

Published 7th Mar 2012

For the last two months, many adults and children from all across London attended reading lessons with a difference on the lower ground floor of Selfridges. The ‘Get London Reading’ campaign helped to transform the floor into a 15,000-book library. The aim was to provide an interactive space where children could learn to love reading whilst adults could expand their knowledge and chat with other literature fans.

The programme consisted of a number of great events for all age groups which were thoroughly enjoyed. One for the adults, the Penguin Classics Book Club, offered a chance to explore and discuss the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens in great depth with the publishers from Penguin. This was followed in the week by a class in Handwriting Analysis, a tea leaf approach in the literary world if you will. Handwriting expert, Julie Hinton, took clues from an individual’s handwriting technique, such as how they dotted I’s and crossed T’s, to explain how this can say a lot about their personality. As well as these popular events, workshops were available in the evenings where one could travel back in time and reminisce about their school days by taking part in a grammar lesson or a class in Greek Philosophy.

Although there were plenty of activities for the adults, the children were the main focus of the event.  A storytelling experience was available to all children, intent on narrowing the boundaries between oral speech and the text on the page. Professional story-teller, Rachel Rose Reid, wanted to help children to find the ‘joy’ in reading by allowing them to get involved by acting alongside her. Reid said that storytelling can help to inspire children who have problems with reading and encourage them to fall in love with words. She said that "it is a way of engaging with language. It improves cognition, listening skills and imagination and it increases the vocabularies of children”.

The primary-school children found the day highly enjoyable, which is very encouraging to hear. Lizzie Boafo, a seven year old from a primary school in Battersea stated that she “really enjoyed it. I love being read stories. When someone tells you a story it really makes it come alive."

The programme ended on an evening of readings, music and performance, as well as a unique collaboration between publishers Faber and Faber and Heavenly Records, which was a fantastic way to end the seven week ‘Words Words Words’ event.


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