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Chatabout: Reading group case study: Heckmondwike
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Chatabout: Reading group case study: Heckmondwike


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On 8 Oct 2010 The Reading Agency hosted a Chatabout Network Day for members to network and share best practice about running reading groups for emergent readers. …

On 8 Oct 2010 The Reading Agency hosted a Chatabout Network Day for members to network and share best practice about running reading groups for emergent readers.

Olivia Barnden and Judith Robinson, from Kirklees Library & Information Service gave a presentation about their Heckmondwike Chatabout reading group.

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  • This presentation gives details of Heckmondwike library’s Chatabout group.
    The presentation covers the following points -
    some background information; how and why the group started;
    the aims of the group; what the participants hope to get out of attending the sessions and how the group fits into various library targets;
    the activities covered in the sessions; and
    the successes and challenges associated with the group.
  • Heckmondwike library is a small library in the North of Kirklees. The junior library is well used, but we wanted to get more adults reading. In partnership with the local primary school we ran the 6 Book Challenge group with a group of local mums.
    The 6BC was so successful that we decided to start a regular, weekly (during term time) informal reading group; the Chatabout format seemed to suit the aims of the group.
    Profile of the group:
    ESOL needs (reluctant/unable to travel to access formal ESOL provision);
    wide age range (19-50); and
    issues around personal confidence and social isolation.
  • The aims of the group
    get everyone reading and borrowing books (active membership)
    provide a low-key/relaxed reading environment
    provide a broad range of book/story related activities linked to the group’s interests
    participate in speaking and listening activities
    increase confidence (both personally and their confidence within the community)
    promote the library as a sociable, neutral and safe meeting place
    promote library resources and library as a first-stop for Council enquiries
    Abida’s role as school Learning Mentor? Promoted the group and recruited new members
    Our role? To facilitate the group, develop book-based activities, ensure a supply of varies, appropriate reading material.
    The ladies trust us and we have helped out with a variety of issues including Council Tax enquiries, health issues and a cause for concern re the personal safety of one of the group.
  • We focussed on the group’s interest in arts and crafts – we tried felt-making, embroidery and fabric painting.
    We used a different sewing/art technique every week to create an alphabet banner and we promoted the library’s non-fiction art and craft books.
    A typical session would be to share a short story or story extract and then chat about what we’d read while sewing; we found this kept the group very informal and meant there was no awkward silences (some of the group are very shy)
  • Because of the ESOL needs of the group we found the Gatehouse book and tape packs very useful.
    The group enjoyed reading and listening to the stories, and the ladies with very little English found the story tapes in community languages useful/enjoyable.
    The group also enjoyed reading magazines together – particularly the magazines covering celebrities and “true life” stories.
    We read Council newsletters, local “what’s on” listings and leaflets of local information – we varied the reading matter and found this “real” literature (information) was of great interest to the group.
  • The group enjoyed the Quick Reads – the Sun Book of Short Stories was particularly popular.
    The ladies in the group borrowed some of the Quick Read book packs – containing a book and a CD/tape. We encouraged the ladies to read and listen to books, and we listened to some of the CDs during group sessions.
  • We used the BBC Raw booklets in a variety of ways
    a book quiz
    a word hunt puzzle
    story discussions
    group read-arounds
    We sometimes linked the activities in to the topics being covered by Abida’s English lessons in school.
  • We had a few weeks when we looked at children’s books; this was because we had seen the ladies choosing books for their children and they asked us about which books were “good” books to borrow. We spent a few weeks looking at junior books and discussing ways they could share books with their children at home.
    We discussed how to encourage children to read at home and the importance of family reading time. We used “Dinosaur Roar” as an example story.
    We read the book together as a group, read other rhyming books in pairs, and played a dinosaur game with rhyming cards. The ladies also made their own version of the book to share with their children.
  • We also looked at The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We started a banner in the Chatabout group in the library and then ran a family sewing workshop at the school for the mums and their children.
    This is the banner we made over several weeks.
  • We have linked in to other literature development activities.
    Storyteller/author Pete Chand told stories from the Punjab.
    Author Puneet Bhandal led a writing workshop and Bollywood dancing session.
    These sessions have been quite challenging for the group; but they have all tried to participate learning new skills and increasing in confidence.
    We followed up the sessions with group discussions and evaluations.
  • The Bollywood theme proved popular, so we promoted a range of library resources for the group to borrow.
    The books, magazines and DVDs covered the health and beauty aspect as well as the history and personalities involved in the Bollywood industry. We talked about the plot “formula” of Bollywood films and the escapism of the costumes, settings and music.
  • The group’s achievements were recognised by Kirklees Council when they were awarded with an Adult Learners’ Week award for Learning In The Community in 2009.
    The group have also been given certificates in the school’s achievement assembly.
  • The group like to browse the library, look at the variety of books and they now feel more confident in the library space.
    They know where things are and are happy to spend time in the library.
    They come to the library with their families for events and to borrow books.
    They are active library members and are more confident when it comes to trying a book.
  • The group’s place within the Council priorities – we want to keep the group running, so need to link this activity to broader Council priorities.
    Self-sustaining? The group need a lot of support so without a group leader this is a long way off/long term goal.
    In the shorter term we really want to link in to the Chatabout community – blogging!!
  • Please feel free to contact us!
  • Transcript

    • 1. Heckmondwike Chatabout Group - more than just a reading group A presentation by Olivia Barnden and Judith Robinson, Kirklees Library & Information Service
    • 2. Celebrating completion of the 6 Book Challenge. “I enjoyed the party. We all cooked food and brought it in to share.” Iram
    • 3. Library skills session “I have noticed the ladies are more confident when they use the library.” Sandra, Heckmondwike library staff
    • 4. The group enjoyed sewing, embroidery, felt-making and fabric painting “I liked looking at the felt-making books. They gave me some good ideas for making my own felt.” Zahida
    • 5. “Borrowing the Gatehouse book packs has helped me with my English.” Riffat
    • 6. “Since coming to the group, I’ve borrowed lots of different books from the library. I like the Quick Reads best.” Maya
    • 7. Book quiz using BBC RAW resources
    • 8. “Dinosaur Roar!” book activities “I will take my book home and read it with my children.” Rukshanda
    • 9. “I’m really proud of this banner. I will bring my children to the library so they can see it.” Rabab
    • 10. Author visits – Pete Chand and Puneet Bhandal “Listening to the stories in Punjabi has been really wonderful. A lot of the ladies remember the stories from their childhood.” Abida
    • 11. Bollywood resources
    • 12. The group’s community learning award recognised their commitment to reading. “I enjoy coming to the library and borrowing books.” Shazia
    • 13. “Chatting at this group has really increased my confidence. I feel happier talking to my daughter in English.” Isabela
    • 14. Future? • Linking activities to Kirklees Council priorities and national indicators. • Demonstrating impact and value. • Enabling the group to be self-sustaining? • Improving the group’s links within the Chatabout community – start blogging?
    • 15. Contact details Judith Robinson – Librarian (Social Inclusion) Olivia Barnden – Librarian (North area)