Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Amy, 54, is living proof that it's never too late to discover the joys of being able to read and write. Here Amy, who lives in Pinkston, Nottinghamshire, explains how the Six Book Challenge launched her on an exciting reading journey.
I never went to school
I come from a travelling family and we were always moving about. So I never went to school as a child, and I never learned to read or write at all. When I started my family I stopped travelling, because I wanted my children to be brought up with the chance to read and write.
Then when they started to come home with homework it was horrible - I had to tell the school that I couldn't help them with it, because I couldn't read or write. You do get more people today who are sympathetic, but I still felt like a lot of people were looking at me as if it was my fault and that I should be able to do something about it. It's not a nice feeling.
Covering it up
I wanted to be able to read and write, but for a long time I never got round to doing anything about it for myself. I used to just get by, to pretend. I'd bluff my way through everyday situations - if I was in a shop and I found I had to read something I'd say stuff like I'd forgotten my glasses and ask could they read it to me. You get good at covering up. Today, there is a form to fill in for everything you do - I'd have to get my daughter to help me with stuff that I needed to read and write.
It affects every part of your life. For example, the other day I was in the supermarket and I'd accidentally unloaded my shopping in an aisle that was for hand baskets only. One woman was really nasty about it, even when I explained that I hadn't been able to read the sign, and everyone was looking at us.
Trying out an adult education class
But just recently, at my son's school, I met a woman who said she had been going to adult education classes to get help with her reading and writing. I thought "why not try?" and I found myself phoning up to find out more.
At first I was shy, and I felt very nervous -- I remember going up in the lift to my first class and being scared that everyone would be so much better than me. But the classes are a nice size and the two tutors are understanding.
Starting the Six Book Challenge with children's books
Then I did the Six Book Challenge through class. I'd never been in a library before but I liked going with the class, and they told us that reading books to children, or recipes, or poetry and so on could all count towards the six things we needed to read. I took out six books - children's books like Mog The Cat and Fox's Socks - and I really liked reading them so I then took out six more.
Feeling more confident
The best thing has been being able to make my granddaughter happy when I read her a story, but it has also been really exciting, finding that I recognise the words on the page and that I know what they mean. Even words like 'the' or 'dog': it feels incredible, and to me it's a really big thing, so I'm definitely going to keep going.
I feel like a new, more confident person now. I'm proud of myself for going to classes and sticking at them. And when I finished the Six Book Challenge and got my certificate, well can you imagine how I felt? I'd never been to school or got any qualifications, so it felt really good!
Read stories from other adults learners who've completed the Six Book Challenge.
We're now accepting orders for Six Book Challenge 2015 materials via our online shop. Order by 14 July to get your materials by September.