The Reading Agency and WWF invite children on a virtual Arctic reading adventure!

The Reading Agency is thrilled to announce a new reading adventure partnership with WWF-UK – the Winter Mini Challenge – following the success of the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Winter Mini Challenge encourages children to continue reading over the winter holidays with a free, digital platform offering rewards and prizes for continuing to read.

The Reading Agency is once again teaming up with WWF-UK to continue the Wild World Heroes’ theme for the Winter Mini Challenge. This time, the Wild World Heroes characters will be going on an Arctic adventure to explore and celebrate our natural world. Following the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, the theme will inspire children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. With ideas from WWF-UK, the Challenge focuses on acting for nature and tackling environmental issues.

During the school holidays, some children can experience a decline in reading. The Winter Mini Challenge plays a vital role in providing an outlet for children to continue reading for enjoyment outside the classroom.

The Winter Mini Challenge is run through The Reading Agency’s digital platform and to complete the Challenge, children simply read three or more books of their own choice. Each time they finish a book, they add it to their Challenge website profile and leave a short book review.

The Winter Mini Challenge will launch on 1 December and run through until 16 January.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be continuing our partnership with WWF for the Winter Mini Challenge – with their commitment to environment and following the success of the Summer Reading Challenge, we’re thrilled to continue this collaboration to deliver our ‘Wild World Heroes’ theme. Each year, we provide children with a chance to keep reading together over the winter holidays and we’re looking forward to working with libraries to get more children participating than ever!”

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said: “Young people are the future of our planet – they have a huge thirst for knowledge about the environment. Together with The Reading Agency, we are providing them with the content and knowledge they need. The Winter Mini Challenge comes in a pivotal year for climate action, and I hope it will encourage young people to start on a life-long journey of protecting nature and our planet”.

Visit www.wintermini.org.uk for more information.

@ReadingAgency

#WinterMiniChallenge

The Reading Agency Reveals Quick Reads Covers And How Thousands Of Free ‘Buy One, Gift One’ Books Are Spreading The Joy Of Reading

The Reading Agency has unveiled the eye-catching covers for the Quick Reads stories publishing on 14 April 2022, written by M.W. Craven, Paula Hawkins, Ayisha Malik, Santa Montefiore, Kate Mosse, Graham Norton, Lemn Sissay and Alex Wheatle.

Forming part of the life-changing literacy programme tackling the UK’s adult literacy crisis by helping less confident readers start reading, these eight, new short books will also be included in the World Book Night 2022 list.

The Reading Agency has also shared the many ways in which the 36,000 copies of this year’s Quick Reads titles donated as part of the 15th anniversary ‘Buy One Gift One’ campaign have reached those who struggle with reading or have limited access to books.

From August to October, tens of thousands of free books were distributed to local authorities, libraries, prisons, adult learning organisations and community-based charities around the country. The ‘Quick Reads’ short stories by best-selling authors Louise Candlish, Katie Fforde, Peter James, Caitlin Moran, Oyinkan Braithwaite and Khurrum Rahman have been encouraging new readers at food banks, homeless shelters, literacy classes, refugee groups as well as those in prison, to find the pleasure and benefits that come from reading.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, said: ‘Thanks to the support and generosity of our Quick Reads publishers and the close collaboration of our many partners, including the generous support of Jojo Moyes, tens of thousands of these transformative stories have been put directly into the hands of those who need them the most helping progress of our mission to break down barriers to reading, and spread the joy of books to new audiences.’

‘Buy One, Gift One’

This year’s ‘Buy One, Gift One’ campaign helps The Reading Agency to get copies of these transformative books into the hands of those that need them most, particularly those who have experienced acute hardship throughout the pandemic. This year, thousands of free books are being distributed in partnership with libraries and other organisations who are providing frontline support, including homelessness charities, food banks, prisons, and Young Offender Institutions.

Libraries in Newham, an east London borough facing significant problems in poverty and inequality, are gifting books to services supporting young people experiencing mental health issues and running functional skills courses. These include local Youth Zones, Newham Youth Offending Team, Supported Living, Adult Learning Services, the Newham Food Alliance and Colleges of Further Education.

Councillor Charlene McLean, Deputy Mayor and Lead Member for Resident Participation and Engagement, Newham Council said: ‘Here in Newham we are really excited to be gifting The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite, through our Adult Learning Service, Supported Living Schemes, Youth Zones and Youth Offending Teams. By gifting through these routes we aim to reach those adults and young people who would benefit most from a Quick Read, discovering, perhaps for the first time, a book that is accessible end engaging with no pressure to read it and no one judging their reading ability. We really hope that by gifting the right book, for the right person at the right time, our donations will help our selected residents to develop a love of reading and further improve their literacy skills.’

Krystal Vittles, Head of Service Delivery, Suffolk Libraries, said:** ‘At Suffolk Libraries’ we decided to gift from our static libraries as well as through our prison libraries to ensure these fantastic books made an impact, and hopefully spread a little joy. We also worked with our partners at Suffolk County Council to gift these books through local foodbanks as a gift for people who are experiencing tough times. We believe that reading, literacy and access to books is a fundamental human right and so we’re always keen to be part of initiatives like this to spread the love of reading.’

Oldham Libraries have distributed copies to the Oldham Council Emerging Communities Team, the Local Authority Asylum Support Liaison Officers, the Oldham Lifelong Learning Centre – who deliver literacy skills courses – and the Oldham Street Angels, who provide food, clothing, shelter and support to Oldham’s homeless.

Jacqueline Widdowson, Senior Library Officer, Oldham Libraries, said: ‘We plan to work with our local homeless charity, The Street Angels. Many of Oldham’s homeless people already use our libraries and are big readers. It will be nice to encourage both current and lapsed readers to enjoy the escapism and warmth of taking yourself outside of your current experience through reading.’

The Promise wins the Booker Prize

The Promise by Damon Galgut has been named the winner of the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction.

The Promise, set in South Africa during the country’s transition out of apartheid, explores the interconnected relationships between the members of a diminishing white family through the sequential lens of four funerals. Galgut told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row during his Booker Book Club interview last week that the idea for the novel’s structure came to him over a semi-drunken afternoon during which a friend described a series of funerals.

He said:

‘It occurred to me that it would be a novel and interesting way of approaching a family saga. If the only thing you had was a small window that opened on to these four funerals and you didn’t get the full trajectory of the family story, as a reader you’d have to fill in those gaps yourself. I’m fascinated as a writer by the edge of the map; by things that are not said’.

It is Galgut’s ninth novel and first in seven years; his debut was published when he was just 17. When asked why he became a writer, he told the Guardian he had lymphoma as a child, during which time he ‘learned to associate books and stories with a certain kind of attention and comfort’. The author, who lives in Cape Town, was previously shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003 for The Good Doctor and in 2010 with In a Strange Room. His 2005 novel The Quarry has been adapted into two films.

What the judges thought

Maya Jasanoff, chair of the 2021 judges, says:

‘The Promise astonished us from the outset as a penetrating and incredibly well-constructed account of a white South African family navigating the end of apartheid and its aftermath. On each reading we felt that the book grew. With an almost deceptive narrative economy, it offers moving insights into generational divides; meditates on what makes a fulfilling life–and how to process death; and explores the capacious metaphorical implications of “promise” in relation to modern South Africa.

‘Galgut’s searching examination of family, place, and the dysfunctions that connect them reminded us of William Faulkner. His deft inhabiting of different characters’ consciousnesses evokes Virginia Woolf. All this he does with a sensibility, artistry, and scope that are entirely his own. As a spectacular demonstration of how the novel can make us see and think afresh, The Promise delivers. This is a book about legacies, those we inherit and those we leave, and in awarding it this year’s Booker Prize we hope it will resonate with readers in decades to come.’

Jasanoff was joined on the 2021 judging panel by writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.

The Promise was described by John Self in The Times as ‘so obviously one of the best novels of the year… a book that answers the question “what is a novel for?” With a simple: “This!”‘ William Skidelsky wrote in the Financial Times that it was ‘a complex, ambitious, brilliant work’ and ‘rarely have I had such a strong sense while reading a novel that I myself was there, in the room with the characters.’

The Bookseller reported this week that the book has sold 8,884 hardback copies, with a 241% leap (1,036 copies sold) in the week after its Booker shortlist announcement in September. It was the bookies’ favourite to win.

Damon Galgut, as winner of the 2021 Booker Prize, receives £50,000, a designer-bound edition of his book, and the £2,500 given to each shortlisted author. As the winner, he can expect instant international recognition.

Get involved

Six reading groups have been reading and reviewing the shortlisted books. See what they thought.

Take a look at the longlist and shortlist for more recommendations.

Have you read the winning book? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and Instagram using #FinestFiction and #2021BookerPrize, or click on a title above to leave a review.

For more information, visit the “Booker Prize website

The Reading Agency

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