Reading Round keeps people connected during the pandemic

Members of the Reading Round
Hannah Downey

The current pandemic has led to many people feeling isolated, which is particularly true for those living in rural, remote rural and island locations.

A range of organisations have launched online initiatives to help address those feeling isolated in their communities. The Royal Literary Fund (RLF) have set up an online reading group called 'Reading Round' which offers people a fun, supportive and stimulating weekly activity.  

Reading Round is a special type of reading group run by a published author who reads aloud short stories and poems, and leads a discussion afterwards. The groups are friendly and non-intimidating and no special knowledge of literature is needed - just an interest in listening and discussion. As the group is funded by the RLF it is also free to particpate.

These groups were established long before the pandemic and have been flourishing in Scotland. One of the current Lectors is award-winning Scottish writer Ruth Thomas, whose work has been extensively broadcast on the BBC and who has run writing workshops at the Edinburgh Book Festival. A member of Ruth's group has described the Reading Round meetings as 'one of the good things that has happened over the past year.'

When the pandemic hit, Reading Round went online. A current member says it is 'a lifeline' and 'a much looked forward to part of the week.' 

Going online has enabled members to join the weekly event from far more scattered locations - all they need is an internet connection.  The Royal Literary Fund is looking to create a series of 6-week online Reading Round courses, starting in mid-April. These will be run in exactly the same way, with a published author reading aloud a story and poem each week, followed by a lively and friendly discussion. There is never any homework - just turn up for 90 minutes of something stimulating and different.

Places are limited so interested potential members should book their place now. Email by 5th April 2021 for further information or to reserve a place.