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A book circle can make patients feel better by reading aloud –

A book circle can make patients feel better by reading aloud –

Shared reading Can be described as a method for reading aloud, short prose texts, and discussion of poetry in groups. This is done with the help of a reading leader, who only reads the text before the meeting.

The reading leader reads aloud, then the group slowly goes through the text. Together they talk about what feelings and thoughts the text evokes.

This method is used in libraries to encourage reading. It has also been tested in healthcare, for example among patients with pain, depression or eating disorders.

Feelings and reflections

Researchers in England have discussed the similarities and differences between Shared reading and cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT.

One difference is that there is a problem identified with CBT that implies an unequal relationship between patient and psychologist. Researchers say that in reading groups, the relationship is more equal and literature elicits emotions and reflections.

– The texts are not chosen based on the issue, but the text can be about anything, says Anders Olsen, professor of literary studies at Lund University.

Previous research on Shared reading They used questionnaires and focus groups to investigate how patients felt before and after.

Patients feel better through texts, reading guides, social media, and team members.

– But we wanted to investigate what happens in the conversation that contributes to these good outcomes, says Anna Gustafsson, associate professor of language and health research at Lund University.

Pathway to social community

Conversation analysis helped to describe in detail how social interaction develops, how conversation about text leads participants to practice putting experiences and feelings into words and to become more flexible in their thinking by participating in others’ perspectives.

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– We turned to psychological development research and found that we can discuss what happens in conversation using the theories of “”.Collective focusAnna Gustafson says that when participants in a conversation focus on the same text, listen to each other’s thoughts, describe their own, and confirm each other’s thoughts, a sense of social community is formed.

A dance between the poem and the participant

The group talks and reflects together on the content of the text from multiple perspectives. This means that book circles become a kind of exercise in perspective-taking and developing feelings and thoughts. This, in turn, may be an explanation for the increased well-being that previous research has shown.

– they move in and out of each other and the poem. It becomes like a dance. Anna Gustafsson says that poetry can guide participants’ experiences and thoughts through certain elements in the text – for example, repeating a certain word several times can raise questions.

Unlike what often happens in regular book circles Shared reading It’s not about achievement and excellence in literary analysis, which can deter and intimidate unaccustomed readers. What is essential is the participants’ own and collective meaning-making, i.e. the exchange of their experiences and literary work.

Many projects are being implemented

Currently, an intermediate Shared reading– Program in Humanities, Medicine and Psychology at the Eating Disorders Unit in London. This fall, a partnership with a high school will also be launched.

– We will keep Shared readingInterviews with several groups of high school students over a six-week period with the aim of investigating whether participation affects their reading engagement. Shared readingAnders Olsson says.

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That’s how Shared Reading began

This method was developed in the late 1990s by researcher Zane Davies at the University of Liverpool. For her, the motto “quality literature for the people” was central. Coming from a working-class background herself, her goal through shared reading was to make literature accessible and to inspire a love of reading among people who were not accustomed to reading.

Be kind, be kind, is a very important tag in shared reading. Team members should be confident in the conversation. So the role of the reading leader is crucial, among other things, in ensuring that everyone is talking and that meaning-making takes place together.

This method began to be used in Sweden in 2017. Since then, 80-90 reading leaders have been trained and are working with the method in libraries, schools and health care.


A complicated dance, Scientific study of literature.


Anna Gustafsson, PhD in Swedish at Lund University, [email protected]

Anders Ohlsson, Professor of Literary Studies at Lund University, [email protected]