Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Ann Marie Stone lives in Kingsbury, London Borough of Brent, with her ten year old son. She wanted to improve her reading, spelling and writing so that she could help her son with his homework and get a better job in the future. She has been studying English and Maths via adult education classes held at Harlesden Library Plus where her tutor introduced her to the Six Book Challenge. Her son has recently been attending an after school homework club at the library. Here, she tells us about her reading journey and her hopes for the future.
Fear of reading in public
I didn't get the opportunity for good schooling. As a child in Jamaica I started school at the age of six, and finished when I was 12. Then I came to the UK when I was 28 to help my family out.
I have read since I left school, but I didn't like reading and I wasn't a big reader; I was often put off, especially when books have lots of big words. You want reading a book to be easy, but if there are big words and you have to stop too often and break them down into syllables to work them out and understand them then you can't concentrate on what the book's about, or get into it, and it's off-putting.
If I got called to read in church I'd be scared of making mistakes and wish they wouldn't ask me. It was a real phobia, and it can make you just want to stop reading completely.
I remember for the little time I was at school in Jamaica, there was no one at home who could read or write, so if I needed help I had to go next door to ask someone else. I didn't want that for my son. When he gets home from school, he washes his hands and has a snack, and then he gets straight down to his homework. I would feel bad if I couldn't help him with it.
Starting with simple books
The good thing about the Six Book Challenge was that we were not being forced to do it, it was up to us and we didn't have to do it. Also, our tutor said we didn't have to pick a hard book, she said we could choose very simple books.
One book I read for the Challenge was about a girl whose father and brother were killed, and she and her mother came to England for a better life, but to start with they couldn't understand English.
Empathy and pride
Reading makes me imagine what other people's lives are like. One character from a book I read, I remember feeling really sorry for her, and I was glad I was not in her situation.
I got into the books I read and found myself enjoying them. And when I'd read my six books and got my certificate I felt good.
I used to think that if you got to a certain age and you hadn't done things it was too late. A good start in school helps, but if you want it, you can get there, you don't have to stay stuck in a rut.
Going to university and getting a degree is my dream. I hope it will become a reality.
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Order materials to run Reading Ahead at your organisation.