Working with the Irish Youth Foundation, we worked with three Extern Pathways groups in Belfast: East Belfast, Shankhill, and Nelson Street.

Extern Pathways provided an alternative to mainstream education for young people who are not thriving in school.

Using the shared reading model

We delivered Reading Rooms with the young people, some of whom experienced issues with literacy. We read short stories, poems, and excerpts from novels together, aloud.

Regular discussion breaks encouraged the groups to reflect on what they had read and explored how it might relate to their own lives.   

A transformative experience

The engagement with literature is enriched by spontaneous sharing of life stories and experiences. Some of the young people made detailed drawings and illustrations of how they experienced what we read together. Confidence within the groups built over time, and relationships were made stronger and more lasting.