Soldiers at Tidworth Army Garrison in Wiltshire are the latest Army personnel to sign up for the Six Book Challenge. They had extra encouragement from our Ambassador Andy McNab when he visited 10AEC to talk about how Army Education turned his life around when he first joined an infantry regiment and his sense of achievement when he finished reading his first book.
Basic Skills Development Managers Kirsty Alderson and Moira Addison (see above with Andy McNab and potential participants, picture by Drumbeat, Tidworth, Netheravon & Bulford Garrison) will be weaving the Challenge into their English and Maths classes and suggesting that soldiers might try a mixture of Quick Reads, magazine articles and other materials to complete the scheme over a six-week period.
"We feel that six is about the right number and the end date gives a focus," says Kirsty. "The Quick Reads are much less daunting than most books and including a shorter piece, like a news article, means that the soldiers can be well on their way before they know it. However, so far, they have all chosen to stay with the Quick Reads!"
One soldier read Andy McNab's Quick Read title Today Everything Changes within 24 hours of receiving a signed copy from the author himself and wrote the folowing in his diary: "This book is a big inspiration. I enjoy the transformation of a poor, angry, adopted boy into an icon who is now loved and admired by people throughout the world. [He was] so angry at everyone he thought were much better placed than he was. He finally transforms into a fully respected man by joining the army and by the words of an officer who said 'You are not thick, you are just not educated.'"
The Six Book Challenge is also being piloted at Army bases in Catterick, Germany and Cyprus. Episkopi Army Library in Cyprus celebrated the success of its first Six Book Challenge completer on Friday 22 March when Sgt Jagatram Rai of the Queens Gurkha Signals detached to Episkopi from Nuneaton collected a 10Euro book token in recognition of his achievement (pictured here with Major Crispin Coates).
Reading a combination of Quick Reads from Episkopi Library and the WRVS charity, Sgt Jagatram finished in less then six weeks devouring texts ranging from military history to novels. Having approached local booksellers, Kyriacou book shop in Limassol, Episkopi library was able to reward Sgt Jagatram's efforts with a voucher to buy a book for himself to keep.
Sgt Jagatram said upon receiving the prize, "I enjoyed the Challenge as all the books were provided freely from the library, the Education Centre and the WRVS. The choice was excellent with a wide range of titles which were well written. There is a proverb that knowledge is power and I am sure that this reading challenge has given me some sort of strength and enjoyment."
If you would like to run the Six Book Challenge in your own organisation please see our resources page.