The Reading Agency Reveals 20th Birthday Celebrations to Get the Nation Reading Plus 7 New Ambassadors

Today, The Reading Agency announces its yearlong ‘Transforming Lives Through Reading’ 20th birthday campaign, inspiring the nation to get reading. Working in partnership with libraries, charities and other organisations, the campaign will celebrate the impacts of reading on health and wellbeing, social connection and life skills and learning.

2022 marks twenty years since the UK’s leading reading for pleasure organisation, The Reading Agency was founded by Debbie Hicks MBE, Miranda McKearney and Anne Sarrag. Since then, the charity has worked across the UK to prove the transformative effect reading has on people of all ages.

The Reading Agency will launch a social media campaign on Thursday 20th January, using the hashtag #ReadOn, encouraging the public to join in and share their stories of how reading has transformed their lives.

Throughout the year, The Reading Agency will deliver its longstanding programmes, including the annual Summer Reading Challenge for 4-11-year-olds; World Book Night, and its adult literacy programme Reading Ahead, along with special campaigns and projects with Sky Arts, Welsh Government and others. Highlights include:

  • Winter of Wellbeing: From January to March, The Reading Agency is working with libraries in Wales to launch a campaign to support reading and wellbeing for 0-25-year-olds as part of Welsh Government’s Winter of Wellness. The campaign includes creating free and accessible resources, local library event, national events and online activities, funded by the Welsh Government.
  • The Reading Adventure game launches in Islington – In March, the digital reading game for transitional age young people which piloted this year will be rolled out across Islington, inviting children to weave reading into an exploration of other areas such as sport, arts, music and nature.
  • World Book Night – On 23 April, the annual celebration of reading takes place with public events across the country and a national book giveaway of 84,000 books – including this year’s Quick Reads titles – through organisations such as health services, prisons, food banks and housing associations.
  • Sky Arts Access All Arts Week – From 6-10 June, The Reading Agency will be working with Sky Arts to deliver a week of activity in primary schools in Leeds on ‘reimagining storytelling’
  • Summer Reading Challenge and Teachers’ Reading Challenge – From June to September, The Reading Agency’s flagship programme for children will return with an accompanying challenge for teachers, inspiring them to read new texts to teach and share with their students.
  • StoryTrails 15 cities – In July and August, as part of Unboxed: Creativity in the UK, The Reading Agency and partners such as the BFI will run a community-led immersive storytelling project which will tour 15 library authorities across the four nations, inviting people to reimagine local histories and share untold stories.
  • Reading Well young people’s booklist launch – In September, The Reading Agency’s clinically curated list of books which help young people to manage their mental health and wellbeing will be gifted to public libraries across the country

The Reading Agency is thrilled to welcome 7 Ambassadors to help champion the power of reading throughout the birthday year and beyond, including: performance poet and playwright, Joseph Coelho; naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty; award-winning and internationally best-selling author Dreda Say Mitchell; bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse; author, poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen; mathematics teacher, writer and television personality Bobby Seagull and poet, novelist and playwright, Benjamin Zephaniah.

Amanda Prowse, author, novelist and The Reading Agency Ambassador, said: “I am truly honoured to become an ambassador for The Reading Agency. I was a little girl who grew up in a house without any books. The day I walked into a library is one I’ll never forget. With a book in my hand, I was able to travel in my mind, curled on the sofa. I could shut out noise, close out chaos and feed my imagination. To help someone discover books, to encourage reading, is I think, one of the greatest acts of human kindness. It does good. It changes lives. It certainly changed mine.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “This is such a special celebratory year for our charity. While it is a moment to reflect, we are now looking forward and thinking about new ways to inspire people across the country to start their reading journey. We are delighted to have the support of our new Ambassadors as we begin this next chapter.”

Join in the conversation and follow the latest developments on social media: @ReadingAgency #ReadOn

The Reading Agency Celebrates Our 20th Birthday Year

We are here to get the nation reading!

Whether you’re an avid bookworm, do most of your reading on a screen, or can’t get past a few pages, The Reading Agency is here to help you discover the benefits of reading for pleasure. Over the last 20 years, we’ve worked in libraries, schools, prisons, on the high street and in homes to deliver the positive impact of reading to those who need it. Tackling everyday challenges from mental health, wellbeing, loneliness and life skills, our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life.

Now, on our 20th birthday, we’re looking to the future. This year, we want you to join us in inspiring a lifelong love of reading in everyone. From our national World Book Night celebrations, our annual children’s Summer Reading Challenge and our Reading Well young people’s list for mental health, there are countless ways for you to join the celebrations and imagine new ways of being in the world.

Transform your life through the joy of reading.

How can I get involved?

Our 20th birthday year is a celebration of the power of reading so we want to hear from you on how reading has transformed your life, big or small. Use the hashtag #ReadOn and tag @readingagency to share your answers to the questions below or make up your own!

  • How has reading transformed your life?
  • How does reading make you feel?
  • When did you first discover a love of reading?
  • How do you make time to read?
  • What is your favourite book from the last 20 years?

Throughout the year, we will be sharing with you some stories from our partners and audiences on the power of reading to transform lives. Sign up to our newsletter and follow #ReadOn on Twitter and Instagram to find out more.

We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got in store. Read our press release for highlights of what’s to come.

We’ve extended the Winter Mini Challenge!

The Reading Agency are so pleased to see so many young readers getting involved in the Winter Mini Challenge that we have decided to extend the challenge until Sunday 20 February 2022.

Children are back at school for the new year, and we want to encourage as many as possible to keep reading for pleasure. With some remaining restrictions in place due to the pandemic, we have extended the Challenge to allow children to keep accessing the wonderful resources and rewards online.

How can children take part in the Winter Mini Challenge?

The Winter Mini Challenge is run through our year-round children’s website. To take part, children simply read three books or more – these can be any books of their choice. Every time they finish a book, they add it to their Challenge website profile and leave a short book review.

Reaching their online reading goal will unlock a special virtual badge and a new Wild World Hero certificate to print off and keep! You will also be able to find fun activities, videos and reading recommendations, plus an exciting competition.

Children can visit the Winter Mini Challenge website at www.wintermini.org.uk to start rating and reviewing their books and enjoying the online activities.

Get involved

Visit our online Shop to download your free Winter Mini Challenge resources pack. The pack includes a Completer’s Certificate, an Arctic-themed Reading Record and a brilliant Activity Sheet for children to enjoy! Alongside these, you will find our Communications Toolkit which includes social media assets and suggested copy.

You can keep up to date with The Reading Agency’s latest children’s activities and offers by following our Summer Reading Challenge page on Facebook or following #WMC2021.

A good book ushers in the winter of wellbeing in public libraries

Children and young people are urged to nominate the books that make them feel better.

Today (13 January 2022) public libraries are joining Wales’ Winter of Wellbeing initiative by launching a campaign to promote the proven difference reading can make to young people’s lives and the power of public libraries to support them. To celebrate the launch, children and young people are being invited to nominate and share a book that’s made a positive difference to how they feel. A national longlist will be announced at the end of this month, as a host of events and activities launch online and in libraries. Nominations are open to all books, in English or Welsh, including fiction, non-fiction, picture books, poetry, Manga, graphic novels and more.

As the pandemic continues to dominate our daily lives, the Welsh Government-funded Winter of Wellbeing is a cross-Wales bid to help children and young people recover from the pandemic and head into spring feeling better, more connected to others and ready for a new start.

“Young people have had such a tough time during the pandemic, and their library is an ideal place to start if they’re new to or want to get back into the community after such a hard couple of years,” says Nicola Pitman, chair of the Society of Chief Librarians Cymru and library lead on this campaign. 

“Everyone has a welcome in their library whatever their age, background, challenge or ability, and what’s inside (including the thousands of audio, print and online reads) belongs to everyone, can open up new worlds and deliver magical experiences,” adds Nicola. “They come to see their library as a safe, friendly place to explore hobbies, interests and ambitions and connect with others.  We are hoping to be able to showcase that in these winter months and are really excited about the difference it can make.”

Four times winner of the Tir na n’Og Wales Children’s Book Awards and Welsh Libraries current author of the month Manon Steffan Ros, echoes Nicola’s views. “Libraries are community hubs and there is nothing like them to centralise the social experience of being in a community, or to democratise knowledge. I wrote quite a few books in my local library and I came to see not only how librarians were brilliant at welcoming young people, finding and recommending books for them, but also building social connections with everyone who came in, and introducing them to others through groups and events, too,” says Manon. 

“Young people don’t always think of libraries as their space, but it really is and this campaign will showcase all that libraries can offer them,” she adds. “I always go back to certain books that make me feel good, especially in the Winter. Books can introduce you to others just like you. Make you realise you’re not alone, even if it feels that way. I am so looking forward to see what children and young people recommend.”

“It is fantastic public libraries are providing activities as part of our Winter of Wellbeing to provide support for children and young people as they recover from the pandemic,” says Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Social Services . “Reading can provide opportunities for our young people to develop their imagination whilst also supporting their emotional wellbeing. I encourage everyone to go to their local library and I look forward to seeing what books are nominated.”

Public libraries have teamed up with The Reading Agency on this campaign and the seasonal celebration of reading will continue through to the end of March with a programme of activities and events delivered online and in libraries.

At The Reading Agency, the aspiration is to get everyone to pick up a book as CEO Karen Napier, explains: “Our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life, and working with and supporting children and young people is key.

“This campaign encapsulates everything we stand for and the aim is to promote the benefits of reading for wellbeing to the children and young people of Wales. We’re looking forward to working together to connect people with their libraries which are such brilliant community hubs, and we really look forward to hearing their views.”

For more information on the Winter of Wellbeing and how your child or you can nominate a book go to the website or go straight to the nomination page.

The Reading Agency’s CEO, Karen Napier, is awarded MBE

We are thrilled that Karen Napier, CEO at The Reading Agency, has been awarded an MBE for services to arts, culture, reading and to public libraries.

Karen joined The Reading Agency in 2019 and her previous appointments include Executive Director of 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.

Karen said: “I am really delighted to receive this award as part of the New Year’s Honours. The transformative impact of reading and the work of libraries could not be more needed. I would like to pay real tribute to the inspiring work of The Reading Agency in its 20th birthday year as the charity continues to deliver on its mission of tackling life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading, inspiring new audiences to read.”

The Reading Agency

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