Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
For the last five years the Six Book Challenge has been run during West Midlands Workers Educational Association (WEA) 'Brush Up Your Skills' weekly literacy classes held in Worcester. Sixty percent of the learners who take part complete the Challenge and enjoy borrowing books from St John's Library. On 2 May completers received their certificates from Worcester's Mayor and Mayoress at a special ceremony.
May Youett, one of the tutors, says: "Doing the Challenge definitely helps the learners extend their vocabulary and improve their reading confidence. The Quick Reads books have helped a lot - they mean that learners can pick up a book and get through it relatively fast, which for many of them feels like quite an achievement."
Shirley completes her fifth Six Book Challenge
Shirley Milton, 71, has been attending the classes for five years and has completed the Six Book Challenge every year.
Shirely says: "I needed glasses to see properly but I was always sat at the back of the class and I used to get letters mixed up. It made school hard for me. I had to teach myself the basics of reading by getting a book and then breaking down a big word that I didn't know into little parts."
Shirley left school at 15 but was keen to help her grandchildren with their homework so she attended adult education courses to improve her reading and spelling. She was keen to try the Six Book Challenge when tutor May suggested it. "I started with easy books, and then went on to harder ones," explains Shirley.
The Six Book Challenge has increased Shirley's reading confidence: "I felt very proud, getting my latest SBC certificate. Now I can talk to anyone about what I've read. I like reading, because you can picture yourself in the same situation as the characters in the books you read, and wonder what you would do in their position. My favourite books are true stories and murder mysteries." Shirley also buys books from local charity shops, which she then passes on to others to read.
Thanks to her increased confidence in her literacy skills, Shirley now enjoys helping her grandchildren with their homework. "I couldn't have done it years ago" she says, "but now if they ask me 'Nanny read to me, or tell me a story', I can do it, and we really enjoy our story times together. With my youngest grand-daughter we've just been making up a story together about cockerels."
The Six Book Challenge teaches Sheila new words
Sheila Lewis (pictured above), 51, has been attending the 'Brush Up Your Skills' class for about three years. Her school years had left her feeling very unconfident about reading and writing, and she left with no qualifications.
"There was a lot going on in my family life, and I missed a lot of classes and got moved from lots of schools, and I just didn't get on," she explains. "I really look forward to the WEA classes. Reading cheers me up and takes my mind off things, and the classes mean I can have time for reading; I don't get much spare time at home."
Although she can still get stuck on longer words, Sheila enjoys reading Quick Reads books, and took up the Six Book Challenge for the first time this year. "My reading has come on a lot and I've really enjoyed reading books that I might not otherwise have chosen for myself.
"I've got more confidence now in my reading," she continues. "I've learned a lot of new words, and that's been really helpful for things like when you're watching television and you see words on the screen during game shows.
"I felt really proud of myself for finishing the Six Book Challenge. It was a lovely presentation ceremony; I got my boyfriend to come along and see me get my certificate, and it was really nice."
Find out more about Reading Ahead
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