From its inception the aim of Derby Book Festival has been to work across our rich and diverse city to engage with as many communities as possible and inspire a love of books and reading. To fulfil this challenge we run two key programmes: Shared Writing and Shared Reading.

Shared Reading

Shared Reading
Credit: The Gribbons

Shared Reading provides opportunities for groups of people to come together regularly to hear stories and poems which are read aloud by volunteers and group members. Following each reading the group share thoughts and reflections on what they have heard. The idea of shared reading as ‘bibliotherapy’ is increasingly recognised by health professionals as bringing significant mental health and well-being benefits.

The Festival has now established five groups in the city – in residential homes, extra care homes and with young refugees and asylum seekers. We want to embrace a larger number of people in a wider range of settings and have been approached by the NHS and the Prison Service. Further developments are planned for the coming year.

"I’ve really enjoyed it. It helps me. There’s no pressure to read anything – you can if you want to or you can just listen."

Shared Writing

Shared Writing

How you can get involved

In future, we are planning to expand our work in both the Shared Writing and Shared Reading programmes. To do this we rely on volunteers who work with us, not just during the 9 days of the Festival, but throughout the year.

If you can commit a few hours, at a regular time every week, as a Shared Reading volunteer, or do occasional days to help our Shared Writing workshops, we would love to hear from you: just e-mail us.

Shared Writing was launched in 2016 to work with young people from different communities in Derby, many of whom have only recently arrived in the country. Over 20% of Derby’s population were either born, or have a heritage, outside the UK and many speak English as a second language.

We want to encourage these students to engage with books and reading by writing their own stories. By publishing as many of them as possible, we inspire our students to have greater self-confidence and aspirations in both literacy and life. As one of our students has said,

"It has been wonderful creating a book and being a published writer. At 12 years of age that is a massive achievement for me and my friends."

In 2018 we worked with students from two Derby schools and from Derby College to produce a series of stories, poems and songs which we published in a book, 'Small City, Big Heart'. Its themes are their experiences of living in Derby and their impressions of the city, whether they were born here or arrived only recently. It includes:

  • 29 short stories from students on the Derby College Lexis programme, which the College runs for English language learners aged between 16 to 19
  • 15 poems written by Year 7 students (12 to 13 year olds) from Bemrose School
  • 3 songs written by Year 5 pupils (9 to 10 year olds) from Pear Tree Junior School.

We hope you enjoy reading their stories. If you would like more information about the Shared Writing programme you will find it on pages 108 and 109 of the 'Small City, Big Heart' book.

How you can get involved

In future, we are planning to expand our work in both the Shared Writing and Shared Reading programmes. To do this we rely on volunteers who work with us, not just during the 9 days of the Festival, but throughout the year.

If you can commit a few hours, at a regular time every week, as a Shared Reading volunteer, or do occasional days to help our Shared Writing workshops, we would love to hear from you: just e-mail us.

"I have learnt you can express your feelings in poetry."

Amy

"Writing for the book helped me use my imagination, which we can’t always do in the rest of our course."

Lexis student

"I feel proud of our songs and Derby."

Enriko