Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Mark Bailey, 44, works as a cleaner at Merseytravel in Liverpool where he lives. Here he tells us about how learning at work helped him get into reading, and the part the Six Book Challenge played:
I was a 'slow' reader
I hated reading at school. I was a 'slow' reader in a big class. I didn't get much attention and I didn't enjoy reading at all. I left school without English or maths qualifications.
As an adult I went to a local college to improve my maths skills but I still didn't feel comfortable about reading and writing. For the past two years I have been attending a learning centre in my workplace; working with Merseylearn tutor Julie Mooney to improve my English skills and working towards a functional skills English qualification. As part of the programme I started to read articles, leaflets and websites and Julie introduced me to the Quick Reads books. This was the first time I had read a complete book as an adult.
Then Julie suggested I sign up for the Six Book Challenge in 2013. She said it would help me to prepare for the reading part of the Functional Skills English assessment.
(Merseytravel have been involved with the Six Book Challenge for six years in partnership with UNISON and management - see picture above of a recent celebration event.)
I read my monthly car magazines and I also read four Quick Reads to complete the Six Book Challenge. I enjoyed them all, and I was really pleased with myself when I completed the Challenge because I didn't think I would.
I feel more confident
My attitude to reading has changed. I feel more confident and I like dipping in and out of magazines and newspapers. I think reading is important in everyday life. It has helped me to understand the meaning of more words and I can find out more about things that interest me such as classic cars and football. I sometimes read the free newspaper Metro on my way to work but I save my magazines for when I am at home and relaxing.
I was really happy and surprised when Andy McNab gave me a signed copy of one of his books when he visited Merseytravel in 2013 (see picture). I joked with Julie about the size of it and how long it would take me to read it! It made doing the Challenge even more worthwhile and I signed up again this year.
I would advise anyone who wants to improve their reading to find out more about the Six Book Challenge and join in. I recently passed my Level One Functional Skills English exam: I am proof it is never too late to learn and to enjoy it!
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Order materials to run Reading Ahead at your organisation.