Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge
Wayne Bywater, 30, who lives in South Normanton, Derbyshire told us how the Six Book Challenge helped him move on from awful childhood memories of reading, dramatically improving his confidence, skills, job prospects and life chances.
"I felt ashamed of my reading and writing"
I had a bad school history - I needed glasses and I was dyslexic but that didn't get picked up for ages; it felt like no one wanted to make that bit of extra effort with me, and I always had the mickey taken out of me about my reading.
I did get a couple of GCSEs but I didn't get entered for English: I always felt ashamed of my reading and writing. Then I couldn't apply for apprenticeships, or most jobs; I got work packing orders, but I couldn't read the instructions on the machines, so I got sacked.
I was often unemployed and on benefits. I wanted to find work, but who was going to help fill out the applications?
I felt really shut out. If people were talking about the news, I hadn't been able to follow it in the newspapers, so I couldn't give my views. I definitely wouldn't pick up a book in front of anyone.
Getting support from Derbyshire adult community education
One day, my partner came home from our kids' school with a leaflet about local adult education classes. She knew I didn't want them to be teased or bullied at school because their dad couldn't read or write, and I wanted to be able to read them a bedtime story.
Since coming to literacy classes, I have accomplished more than I ever did at school. I was given a test for dyslexia and then got some one-to-one learner-support: Chris Shaw, who helps me, and my tutor Alison have been fantastic.
We do the Six Book Challenge in class. The first time I'd done my six reads and got my certificate I showed my mother, and she was over the moon. It means so much to me, to be able to say "I've done that."
"It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off me"
I wouldn't ever have gone into a library; but we had a tour, showing us how everything works, and now I like the idea of picking a book for myself and learning new stuff all the time.
I may not be the best reader in the world, but even simple things like being able to read and write my own name and address have made a huge difference, because I don't have to ask someone else to help me.
At night with my kids, we read together, and we learn and help each other together. I'll also read the newspaper, whereas before I would just look at the pictures. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off me.
Moving forward at work
I've even had a mini-promotion. I work in a lorry yard, where I have a really good boss, and now I'm starting to help the fitters with general servicing and stripping engines. I can read the manuals, and I can read the instructions and figures on equipment. I feel like I'm in another world now! I can even read the magazines or books that some of our lorry drivers sometimes leave in their cabs! Every day's like a new discovery.
I'm really proud of myself, but I want to go on and get a qualification in motor vehicle studies. Now I feel I've got the courage to try.
You can do it too. Once you get started, you'll feel completely different with all sorts of doors opening to you, and you won't want to stop!
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Order materials to run Reading Ahead at your organisation.