Back to page

WEA Book Discussion Scheme Charitable Trust

  • Men's Prison Book Group Offers Safe Space to Express Emotions

      16 May 2023
    Main image

    When the book group at Tongariro Men's Prison selected "The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes" as one of their reads this year, the team at BDS weren't sure how it would be received. The story centres on single mum 'Rabbit' Hayes, who is coming to the end of her innings...prematurely. Gathered at the hospice in her final days are her friends and family, recalling and celebrating the life she has led to the full.

    Led by two volunteers, the group rated the book 4.5 stars out of five and had this to say:

    "Very powerful and moving read. Many tears shed. It was good for the men to speak and share their emotions."

    We think this highlights two key benefits of book group: connecting unlikely readers to books they might not otherwise have chosen, and opening hearts and minds through the experience of shared reading. Your donations help us deliver these benefits (and more) to book groups in prisons around NZ — thank you!

    If you'd like to learn more about volunteering with us to deliver a prison book group or our other social agenda groups, please visit or contact us for more information.

      0 comments  |  Login to leave a comment
  • Book groups make us better humans

      12 January 2021
    Main image

    Today we just wanted to share with you a message from one of our staff members, who was profoundly moved by one of the books recently added to the catalogue. We think it shows how reading and book groups can genuinely teach us how to be better people by increasing our understanding and sometimes confronting uncomfortable feelings.

    By supporting BDS, not only are you contributing to a fairer, kinder, more accepting society, you're helping those least-likely to engage with reading and book groups to reap those benefits too. Thank you to all our members, donors, advocates and supporters.

    Husna's Story by Farid Ahmed

    Reviewed by Kirsty Grant

    Ok, so I admit it. When this book first came into the scheme I thought I didn't want to read it.

    I had heard the sirens that day [15 March 2019], I had felt the shock and disbelief, I had taken flowers to Hagley Park, I had cried. I didn't want to revisit those events.

    And yet I really wanted to understand more about how the Muslim community, and Farid Ahmed in particular, were so forgiving and spoke of love and peace — not hate. So I went to hear him speak at the Word Festival in Christchurch and was so moved I had to read the book (yes, more tears).

    This book is about so much more than the events that day. It is about being an immigrant, the Muslim faith, Farid and Husna's love for each other and their community, and the journey to peace and understanding after 15 March. Most of all it is about love for humankind. There is so much we can all learn from Farid — his forgiveness, grace and humility.

    This book really spoke to my heart and gave me hope that (corny but true) the world can be a better place if we all try to love — not hate — and accept other people for what they are. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

      0 comments  |  Login to leave a comment
  • Mystery Book Parcels — another great way to support BDS and keep reading

      10 August 2020
    Main image

    Recently, we opened up our Mystery Book Parcels offer (five pre-read books for $20, posted anywhere in NZ) to non-members as a way to raise funds beyond subscriptions and donations. The response has been incredible! Several people have written back to say how happy they are with their new set of reads:

    I'm really looking forward to reading my way through this great selection. Fantastic value for money!! By a happy co-incidence my husband is making a new bookcase. — Lois (Auckland)

    Thanks, Renee, the books arrived yesterday, and I am delighted. Great variety too. — Rae (Ashburton)

    Very excited about your selection. thankyou very much. — Judy (Tauranga)

    Today is my birthday and this is my present to myself! — Debby (Picton)

    Thank you so much for that lovely selection of books. Great choices, and I’ve read none of them before. Can hardly wait to get stuck in. — Athole (Queenstown)

    If you'd like to order a Mystery Book Parcel for yourself or a loved one, email with you name, address and list of genres/authors/topics you particularly love and the BDS team will put together a parcel for you!

    Thank you all for your support and helping BDS create a fairer, kinder, stronger NZ through book groups.

      0 comments  |  Login to leave a comment
  • Helping migrants feel at home in NZ

      6 July 2020
    Main image

    Your support helps us provide intermediate English book groups for migrants wanting to improve their English, make friends, and learn about life in New Zealand. One of our ESOL/Intermediate English groups in Tauranga has just started to select books from the main catalogue, after having read their way through the entire intermediate selection over the last four-and-a-half years — a real achievement! Here's what some of their members have said about what they get out of their book group:

    "Discussion helps you to open your mind to other things you didn't see, makes you think about the questions more deeply," If I didn't join the group I wouldn't read so much. I like having to read a new book each month with the group, it helps me learn more." — Joy

    "I'm finally reading books in English." — Jessica

    “If not reading then I don’t know the culture and history [of NZ]" — Lina

      0 comments  |  Login to leave a comment
  • Thanks for your support so far!

      16 June 2020
    Main image

    While our membership fees form the majority of our income, your support means we can also work with groups for whom membership costs may be barrier to accessing the opportunities for learning and social connection book groups provide. For example, we support prisons to provide book clubs for inmates. This comment is from a participant in one of our prison groups:

    "I'm have had such a great opportunity to be part of an awesome, friendly, relaxed group, a place without judgement, but with respect, a place to be positive."

    Arohanui, Thank you for your support!

      0 comments  |  Login to leave a comment