Our world needs active citizens to take the lead in
We’ve been inspired by a range of different people, organisations, research studies, and ideas. These are some of them:
1. Readers. We’ve worked with readers for many years, most notably through the Brave New Reads programme. Throughout, we’ve seen first-hand all that readers working together can achieve, how much latent talent and expertise there is just waiting to be catalysed, and the commitment of readers to being active members of their communities. We have had countless conversations about what else readers might do, and We Are Readers is our response.
2. The impacts of reading. From the ways that reading for pleasure at age 16 boosts academic performance far more significantly than socio-economic background or parental education levels, how it helps children escape poverty,
3. Social agency. Academics, social policy strategists, digital entrepreneurs, and the third sector, are increasingly recognising that people collaborating together are the change makers of the future and that it is communities who will deliver social progress and better communities for us all to live in. The RSA is doing a lot of hugely exciting thinking in this area, David D Chrislip and Ed O’Malley have written and researched the ways that civic leadership is changing in the 21st century to place social collaboration at the heart of change, Diane Ragsdale has written and spoke about the role of the arts in this emerging social landscape, while the New Citizenship Project is exploring how people may come to see themselves as citizens rather than consumers, with all the change in attitude that this may entail. Communities are banding together to do amazing things: there’s REPOWERBalcombe an energy cooperative seeking to generate 100% of
4. Empathy, and social gifting. Richard M Titmuss’s seminal work The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy explores how enabling ‘the individual expression of altruism and regard for the needs of others’ must be at the heart of social policy, while writers such as Roman Krznaric in Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution, startups like EmpathyLab, and many others are seeing empathy as possibly the most important attribute we need to cultivate to thrive in the future.
5. The Good Gym has led the way in
Our thinking is inspired by a range of different people, organisations, research studies, and ideas. It makes us feel tingly and warm to see how much amazing work there is being done in the world, and we want to be a part of it. So why not click here and find out more about the inspirations driving us.
The Art of W.A.R. (We Are Readers) – Our four key principles.
- Reading is Active. In reading we are artists and we are explorers. And because reading is active, readers can be change-makers. This is the starting place for everything We Are Readers seeks to do.
- Reading is good. There are immense personal, social, health, and economic benefits of reading. Studies suggest that reading for pleasure is a better measure of academic and life success than socio-economic background or parental education level. Reading has been linked to advancing empathy, to greater participation in the democratic process, to reduced levels of stress, and to mental health benefits. Readers are more likely to vote and to play an active role in their communities
- Readers have rights. They are set down in Daniel Pennac’s excellent The Rights of the Reader. Whoever you are, whatever you read, however you read it, come and join our band of readers! We believe there is no such thing as objectively ‘good’ or ‘bad’ literature. There is just taste. And the value of great books resides in the effect they have on a reader.
- Reading broadly is best. When we read broadly (a range of authors, forms, genres, and ways), everything gets magnified. We have new experiences, we think new thoughts, and we open up new ways of behaving. We Are Readers encourages all readers to read the books they wouldn’t normally think to read, and to talk to the people we wouldn’t normally think to talk to. We believe in connecting. So strongly do we believe in reading broadly, that we found a term for it: Bibliodiversity. We believe bibliodiversity is as important to a healthy literature as biodiversity is to a healthy environment. And we believe that a reading revolution based on bibliodiversity could have as much of an impact on the way we write, publish, sell, buy, read, and talk about books, as Fairtrade has had on how we shop.