Monica Thornton is Learning and Organisational Development Manager at Merseytravel. She explains how she rediscovered reading after participating in Reading Ahead and Quick Reads.
Awestruck by the library
Monica was an avid reader as a child. "Whenever we had a free lesson at primary school, I would always choose to read," she says. "I wanted to read The Hobbit aged nine. It was very difficult and I would have to look up words in the dictionary. I'd always want to read in my free time."
On a school outing to the library, Monica recalls looking up at the fiction section.
She says: "I had an ambition to read all the books in the library. I was awestruck." This was the public library in Ellesmere Port, a town on the River Mersey near Liverpool where Monica still lives. "I'd be reading in the evening and my mum would turn out the light but I'd still be reading under the covers."
Stopping reading as an adult
As Monica grew older, she stopped reading. "Because I liked reading so much, I felt like I was having to do it all the time," she explains. "I'd be spending all morning reading on my day off. I thought, 'I can't be spending the whole days doing this.'"
Discovering Quick Reads
Monica rediscovered reading through Quick Reads, after she started working at Merseytravel. The short length of the books meant she could read without feeling guilty about taking up too much of her day. "They [Merseytravel] were running a Reading Ahead event on the ferry," she says. (Merseytravel runs a daily commuter service across the River Mersey). "They showed me the Quick Reads and I thought it was a good idea, so I took a couple."
Monica began to read the books on her commute to and from work in Liverpool as part of the Reading Ahead programme. "The beauty of Quick Reads is I could feel I was getting somewhere," she says. "Once the journey was over I could pick the book up again in the evening."
As a child reading also helped Monica with her spelling. "I struggled with spelling at school," she says. "But the reading helps you with the grammatical aspect."
Looking to the future
Monica says she will "definitely" be looking out for the new set of Quick Reads that will launch in 2020 thanks to funding from Jojo Moyes. "Quick Reads are good stories," she says, "and it's a good way to start the Reading Ahead challenge." When Monica reads, she says the experience is like looking at a picture. "When people speak through the book you can hear their voice."
Monica would advise anyone looking to develop their reading to "give Quick Reads a go."
She says: "You don't know what you'll get out of it. Everything in life doesn't have to have a purpose - escape is good in itself. Reading can give you knowledge and it's good for wellbeing. Just read and enjoy it - it's something that's personal to you and helps you to develop as a person."
Prepare for the re-launch of Quick Reads by taking a look at our Quick Guide.
Find out more about how Reading Ahead could help you or your students.