Mike works as a ranger for Plymouth Community Homes. Books, reading and especially reading together have had a real impact on him and his six year-old son Carlton, as Mike explained recently:
Although I read books at school and I know plenty of people who are into reading, it had never really been my thing. At school it felt like a bit of a chore - something one had to do, rather than seeming like fun.
After I'd left school, life got busy and at the end of a long day I would sit down and watch a DVD or the TV, but I wouldn't really read a book - I'd often find it hard to get into a story.
"I thought it would be good for Carlton to see me reading"
But The Beacon - the community hub where I work - has a library in it. One day last year I saw a librarian putting up posters encouraging people to sign up for the Six Book Challenge (now known as Reading Ahead). I went in to find out more, and decided it would be something good for me and Carlton to do together.
I thought it would be good for Carlton to see me reading. Reading is important for children. He started off being enthusiastic about reading at school, but then went off it a bit - he's a typical boy who liked to be out climbing trees or kicking a football.
I started off by reading 'easy read' books. It really opened my eyes - I found that once I'd read my first book, it gave me a taste for trying another one, and then another, and soon I found I'd read the six books I needed to complete the challenge. I hadn't really read a lot of books before but doing this challenge has made me see how enjoyable reading is. It gave me a little kick up the backside: everyone should try it!
The Summer Reading Challenge
Meanwhile I'd signed Carlton up to the Summer Reading Challenge. Every few days he would bring a book home from school; I would meet him at the park and we would go home and read it together.
In August last year we got our photos taken together, receiving our certificates at North Prospect Library in Plymouth for completing the Six Book Challenge and the Summer Reading Challenge together.
Carlton was really happy to get his certificate, and doing the challenge got him right back into reading - so much so that at the end of last year he won a prize at school for reading 100 books! I was so proud to be at his school assembly and see him get his prize.
"You can get so much from books and reading"
As well as bringing books home from school, Carlton now also gets books out of the library. His favourite reads are dinosaur books and Horrid Henry books.
I don't get lots of time to read but now - instead of automatically switching on the TV or watching a film - sometimes I'll read for an hour. I've really got into Andy McNab's books. It's so interesting to read about how they got behind enemy lines without getting caught, and what they went through.
Don't be afraid to pick up a book. Have a go. It might not be for you, but if you don't give it a try you will never know, and you might miss out on a whole lot of new things. You can get so much from books and reading!
I'll let Carlton have the last word. He loved doing the Challenge with me and he says: "I love reading books."
Find out more about running Reading Ahead at your organisation
The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to read six books or more over the long school holidays. Find out more