Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Linda was already an avid reader but taking part in the Six Book Challenge as part of a group for people with mental health problems has made her more aware of the social side of reading. She also uses Southend's Home Library Service because her long-term depression makes her feel too anxious to get to a library. She's among nearly 200 residents, many of them housebound, who receive free visits from two library volunteers once every four weeks with a selection of books.
'I was a member of the charity Rethink which organises classes and activities. They were advertising a new book club which I went along to, and it was there that I first found out about the Six Book Challenge. I decided to go along with it, and it really opened my eyes to the experiences of other people who can't read. One girl who hadn't read anything for ages got hooked. And there was one chap who had been very, very depressed and who didn't speak to anyone - he read a book about football and started to open up and communicate, talking about it with people.
I really enjoyed writing reviews of the books I'd read. Usually I'll read a book and then it will go out of my head, but now I have a record of all the books I read for the Challenge. And I'm looking forward to receiving my certificate.
Reading can be a solitary thing for me; I can only read if it is very quiet. But when we did the Six Book Challenge, in class we ended up just chatting about books and reading, which is good because it's social, and I met people whom I would not have otherwise met.
For anyone who is thinking about trying the Challenge for themselves, but who might be nervous or embarrassed, I would say just try it. Reading is a really good form of communication, so I would say to anyone don't be ashamed, have a go; it'll introduce you to a whole new world. I think the Six Book Challenge is brilliant - it has got me excited about books again!'
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Order materials to run Reading Ahead at your organisation.