Karen Napier appointed new CEO of The Reading Agency

26 July 2019: The Reading Agency has appointed Karen Napier as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Napier is an experienced leader in the arts, cultural and education sectors. She has spent the last few years as Chief Executive at Wac Arts, whose mission is to empower young people to change their worlds through the arts. Her previous appointments include Executive Director of the Swarovski Foundation, Director of Development at the Southbank Centre leading the £111 million transformation of the Royal Festival Hall, and the first Associate Dean of Advancement at London Business School.

She has also held several non-executive roles. She chaired Greenbelt Festival for many years and was a founding trustee of Hofesh Shechter Company. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies at Canterbury, University of Kent and has recently taken up the role as Trustee of Kiln Theatre. She takes over as CEO from Sue Wilkinson MBE who is retiring this month having led The Reading Agency since January 2014.

Napier says: “I am really delighted to be joining The Reading Agency. There has never been a more needed or important time in our society for the kind of work that is at the heart of the charity’s mission. Sue Wilkinson has been an incredible leader over the last few years. I am grateful for her generosity of spirit and support as she hands on the baton and I wish her a wonderful, well deserved and exciting retirement. There is a real opportunity over the coming years to deepen the impact of The Reading Agency and to widen its engagement even further. I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues, Arts Council England and all the fantastic and committed partners across the country, as we continue to build a nation of lifelong readers together.”

Matthew Littleford, Chair of The Reading Agency’s Board of Trustees says: “I am absolutely delighted that Karen is joining us at The Reading Agency. She has drive, enthusiasm, passion and vision and is a skilled and ambitious leader. The Trustees are really looking forward to working with her and, together, taking our brilliant organisation through the next stage of its development.”

Reading has been important to Napier’s life since childhood. She says:

“As an only child growing up in Yorkshire I loved getting lost in books such as Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although so much of my reading currently is based around my MA academic text books which I love, David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress is a real favourite and captures the same wonderful childhood experiences of not being able to close the pages and put the book down. I read it with my daughter when it first came out and have recently read again and loved it even more with my seven-year-old son! It’s everything reading should be about! Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earing is another all time favourite for its beautiful and evocative writing – another book I just couldn’t put down!”

Get involved

Find out more about our work, and the impact that reading can have.

Explore job vacancies on our Work for us page.

Get involved in Space Chase, the theme for the 2019 Summer Reading Challenge.

Update: Boots UK to support Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia initiative in Wales

Boots UK will support the Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia initiative in North Wales with two special events in Denbigh and Colwyn Bay Libraries.

Recent studies estimate that there are between 38,444 and 55,829 people living with dementia in Wales and by 2021, the number of people with dementia across Wales is projected to increase by 31% and by as much as 44% in some rural areas.

The scheme has been developed to support people with dementia and their relatives and carers by providing an expertly curated booklist, which includes information and advice for people living with the condition, as well as fiction, memoir and photographic books used in reminiscence therapy.

During the event, themed activities such as a bilingual reading group session and a reminiscence group session with books recommended as part of the campaign were held.

As part of Boots’ involvement in the initiative, posters and leaflets with information on how the Reading Well programme works, where to get help as well, and the list of recommended books, will be available in 103 Boots stores and pharmacies.

Chris Feliciello, Pharmacy Affairs Manager, Wales Boots UK, said: “Over the past few years we’ve continuously demonstrated our commitment to making our stores in Wales more Dementia Friendly through our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society. We are pleased to be embarking on the fantastic Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia initiative by The Reading Agency and helping our customers and colleagues increase their awareness of the condition through information available in stores.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, added: “A dementia diagnosis can be a difficult and lonely experience for all concerned. Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia provides helpful reading material available in the safe and trusted space of the local library, supporting people to live well, manage caring responsibilities and connect with the experiences of others.

“We are delighted that Boots is supporting the scheme by stocking leaflets and posters in every store in Wales, enabling these brilliant books to reach more people and build dementia friendly communities.”

Get involved

For more information, please contact Boryana Kermenova at the Boots UK Press Office on 07887 056201 or email [email protected]

Konnie Huq names The Tiger Who Came To Tea as the story she’ll be handing down to her children

• Author and TV presenter Konnie Huq has picked Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea as her ‘inheritance book’: the story she would pass down to her children
• Konnie’s choice of book comes as a new survey commissioned by The Reading Agency revealed that UK parents and carers are most likely to pass J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter down to their children
• The survey has been commissioned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge in libraries, which offers a fun, free-to-participate way for children to discover reading for pleasure, at the same time maintaining their reading skills and confidence in the long break from school
• The Summer Reading Challenge launches on Saturday 13th July in libraries across England and Wales. This year’s Challenge is called Space Chase, involving an alien adventure designed to to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings

12 July 2019: New survey results from The Reading Agency have revealed that 19% of parents and carers in the UK would pass on Harry Potter, or any other book by J.K. Rowling, as their ‘inheritance book’.

The survey, which polled parents and carers across the nation, revealed the books they would be most likely to hand down to their children. Harry Potter was followed closely by Matilda and other books by Roald Dahl. Following behind these authors were Winnie the Pooh and other books by A. A. Milne and Tracy Beaker and other works by Jacqueline Wilson.

Returning to the books of childhood

For author and TV presenter Konnie Huq, who is also a spokesperson for the Summer Reading Challenge, her inheritance book would be Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

Discussing the survey results, Konnie said: “I still return to some of the books I loved as a child, and the first time I read The Tiger Who Came To Tea and The Very Hungry Caterpillar with my kids was a pretty special moment. There’s no greater joy than discovering a story which speaks to you and then being able to pass that on to the next generation. I can’t wait to see which books my children will pick during this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, and what stories and memories they may one day share with their own children.”

Making space for reading this summer

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge, which kicks off on 13 July, encourages children aged 4 – 11 to sign up to their local library and read six library books of their choice. The results showcase the love parents and carers continue to have for the books they encountered in their own childhood.

Commenting on the results, Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said:

“Books we read in childhood stay with us for the rest of our lives – we all have a book that is so important to us we’d like to pass it on to our children, for them to enjoy. The Summer Reading Challenge is a great way for families to make space for reading by asking parents and carers to encourage children to discover the worlds of their favourite childhood characters – and from there, to explore other ones as well.

“Over the past 20 years, The Reading Agency and libraries have seen first-hand the benefits that the Challenge can offer – from improving children’s confidence to helping them build empathy. The Challenge gives 4-11 year-olds a chance to develop connections to beloved books that they, one day, might want to pass on to their own children.”

Mark Freeman, President of Libraries Connected, said:

“Sharing a love of your favourite books is a really special way to spend time with your children. We’re really excited to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Challenge, and hope this year’s campaign will encourage more families to go to their local library to borrow old and new favourites to enjoy over the summer.”

The full list of ‘inheritance books’ is listed below (overall %):

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or other books by J. K. Rowling (19%)
2. Matilda or other books by Roald Dahl (17%)
3. Winnie the Pooh or other books by A. A. Milne (15%)
4. Tracy Beaker or other books by Jacqueline Wilson (8%)
5. Funnybones or other books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (7%)
6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! or other books by Dr Seuss (7%)
7. Pig Heart Boy or other books by Malorie Blackman (4%)
8. A Caribbean Dozen or other books by John Agard or Grace Nichols (4%)

Get involved

You can join the Summer Reading Challenge throughout the summer – just go to your local library!

You can find book recommendations from other children as well as fun activities on the Summer Reading Challenge website

We are calling for parents and carers to make #SpaceforReading this #SummerReadingChallenge. Join the campaign by submitting a photo of your own reading den with #SpaceForReading and @readingagency via social media and be in with the chance of winning a special prize.

Parents and carers stressed and anxious at the thought of school summer holidays

• Our new survey reveals that 40% of parents and carers feel stress, anxiety or dread when thinking about the summer holidays
• 90% of parents and carers say elements of their routine slip over the summer – one in three (35%) say regular reading with their children takes a hit
• Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Summer Reading Challenge helps families have fun together for free over the summer holidays
• The Summer Reading Challenge launches on Saturday 13 July in libraries around the country

12 July 2019: A new survey by charity The Reading Agency has revealed that, instead of seeing them as a time for fun, the summer holidays leave 40% of parents and carers with an overriding sense of dread, stress or anxiety. The cost of keeping children entertained is a key concern for parents and carers, with 42% saying they were left broke after the summer holidays and 23% saying they seriously feel the pinch.

Over half of parents/carers (55%) admit they need to fork out an extra £500 – £1,500 for family entertainment during the six-week period, and 8% admitted that they’re left with a dent in their wallet of at least £1,500.

Another struggle is maintaining a regular routine, with 90% of parents/carers reporting things that ‘slip’ over the summer. Bedtimes, healthy eating and regular reading were the top activities going out of the window over summer, with over one in three saying that regular reading with their children slips.

The Summer Reading Challenge is here to help

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Launching on 13 July in libraries across the country, the Summer Reading Challenge is here to help. Free and fun, the Challenge and activities in libraries are designed to help children discover the joy of reading and develop confidence, all of which help them maintain their reading skills in the long break from school.

This year, to mark the Challenge’s 20th anniversary, The Reading Agency and libraries are calling on families to make space for reading over the summer by setting aside time each day to read together.

Make Space for Reading this summer

Commenting on the survey results, Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said:

“Summer holidays are meant to be fun – but this survey shows that worries about money and how to keep children occupied, as well as how to keep them learning, add pressure for many parents and carers. The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun, free activity for children which provides access to books and encourages reading for pleasure.

Over the past 20 years, The Reading Agency and libraries have seen first-hand the benefits that the Challenge can offer: from bringing families together to improving children’s confidence and helping them build empathy, reading has so many benefits, which is why we are encouraging families to make space for reading this summer. Reading as a family is also a particularly good way to generate conversation and even explore difficult issues.”

RASRC19_092.JPGInspired by the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme is Space Chase. Libraries across the country are planning an exciting summer of events, with some creating their own planetariums or VR experiences.

Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive of Libraries Connected, said:

“The Summer Reading Challenge is the perfect way to ease the pressures experienced by parents across the UK over the summer. Public libraries are great at making reading fun and research shows children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers. We’re really excited to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Challenge, and hope this year’s campaign will help families see just how important it is to make space for reading.”

Get involved

You can join the Summer Reading Challenge throughout the summer – just go to your local library!

You can find book recommendations from other children as well as fun activities on the Summer Reading Challenge website

We are calling for parents and carers to make #SpaceforReading this #SummerReadingChallenge. Join the campaign by submitting a photo of your own reading den with #SpaceForReading and @readingagency via social media and be in with the chance of winning a special prize.

The Reading Agency

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