The power of reading aloud

July 9, 2010

We all know the power of reading, how it opens doors, how it expands our imagination and thought, and how it connects us to other people.  Reading aloud can be even more powerful for those in Care Homes, who may no longer read themselves, have few relatives that come to visit, and might not be able to participate fully in some activities.

Read Aloud, a new initiative currently being run by Edinburgh Libraries and our partner, the Scottish Poetry Library, sets out to connect with residents in Care Homes, to offer them spoken poetry and and stories, a chance to share their memories and enjoy a bit of company.  We read poems on popular themes- ‘gardens’, ‘Leith in the old days’, ‘childhood’, chat to the residents about their favourite poems and rhymes and pass around props and photos to spark off reminiscence- we often end with a wee communal sing song!

Our project kicked off in December 2009 when we met with various interested parties- Ryan Van Winkle (Poetry Reader in Residence) Artlink, Care Home staff, Royal Edinburgh Hospital staff, the Storytelling Centre and Direct Services (Edinburgh Libraries) to discuss our ideas and a way forward.  Now the project is up and running, with our first outing to Forthland Lodge in March and our most recent Read Aloud session in Donaldson’s Court in Leith, last week.

Currently we aim to visit approximately 3 Edinburgh Council Care Homes regularly, once a month.  We hope to expand our base of ‘Readers’ by involving interested and keen staff in both our organisations and Care Homes, and also by using volunteers.  If you would like to  know more about this project, please get in touch with Annie Bell, Reader Development, Central Library 0131 242 8046,

Annie Bell is the Reader Development Officer at the Central Library, Edinburgh City Libraries. We are glad to reproduce this piece which first appeared in WordUp, the Central library’s email newsletter

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