Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Martin Hayward, 46, who is originally from South East London now lives in Shirebrook in Nottinghamshire. Having worked previously as a cleaner, Martin has a mental health condition and lives in supported housing, but prides himself on his independence.
Despite having been unemployed for 22 years he is actively looking for work, and has returned to studying at his local adult community education centre run by Derbyshire County Council where he has been taking computer and English classes.
"I went back to studying to give me something to do," he says. "I see so many people who are doing nothing with their lives, just sitting indoors and smoking and not trying to get a job. I've enjoyed going to English classes, and my tutor Alison is a good teacher.
"It was Alison who first told us about the Six Book Challenge. I wasn't going to do it at first although years ago I used to read a lot, including classics like Great Expectations and Moby Dick. I haven't read a book in years; I am out most days looking for work and I also have a ten-mile journey to collect my benefits, so I don't get much time.
"But I changed my mind. I suppose it was because of the certificate that was attached. I've got a Level 3 certificate for computers and I liked the idea of getting a certificate at the end of the Six Book Challenge too.
"I managed to complete the Challenge in about a month. I read a lot of Quick Read Doctor Who books, which I enjoyed very much. The one I enjoyed the most was The Sontaran Games. This was an action-packed book full of intrigue and suspense. I enjoyed the way it was written and the storyline that went with it.
"I also read a Quick Read called Life's Too Short about people's different experiences of work, like delivery drivers and so on. I found it interesting, and it gave me a new lift to think that I could get a job, after having been unemployed for 22 years.
"The books I read for the Six Book Challenge were entertaining and it was a real joy reading them. In the immediate future I am sure that I intend to read more books, especially in the Dr Who series. I've enjoyed reading again, when I get the time. I wasn't a member of the local library, but I am now, and when we go with my class I enjoy picking out books for myself.
"Overall, it was a challenge reading six books in only a month, and I enjoyed writing down my thoughts about them; it helped me with my writing, and my grammar and punctuation has improved. And I felt like I had achieved something. It has boosted my confidence and it might be something I can mention to employers to help me get a job.
"The thing that meant the most to me about the Six Book Challenge was actually enjoying the content of the books that I read. I found the Challenge focussed and informative and I would recommend anyone to do it. It brought pleasure to me and helped to enhance my vocabulary and my understanding."
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