Award-winning novelist Bali Rai has seen for himself how our Six Book Challenge reading for pleasure programme has successfully supported students at Barnet and Southgate College to develop a new habit of reading for pleasure and improve their skills at the same time.
Bali, the author of acclaimed titles for young adults such as Rani and Sukh and The Crew, visited Barnet and Southgate College's student hub on its Southgate campus after it won a prize draw for colleges running the Six Book Challenge for their students.
His lively talk highlighted where reading for pleasure can take you and how important it is to the future success of learners at school or college and beyond. He related this to his own experiences and how he managed to become a published author; he also talked about managing one's own future and where reading for pleasure comes into that. He emphasised how the Six Book Challenge improves literacy, communication and understanding of the world.
"The ability to read well is the cornerstone of all achievement"
Bali, whose latest novel Web of Darkness is about danger on the internet and who is nominated for the prestigious 2015 CILIP Carnegie medal, said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be working alongside The Reading Agency and Barnet and Southgate College to promote the Six Book Challenge. The ability to read well is the cornerstone of all achievement and the key to the future success of the students here. People who love to read do better in life - it really is that simple."
Barnet and Southgate College has run the Six Book Challenge since 2012, this year getting a bronze award for achieving 75 completers. Bali's talk was attended by several ESOL students including Leunisa Rexha (to the right of Bali in the picture above), originally from Kosovo, who is on a full-time course and wants to be an air stewardess. A keen reader in her own language she is the first to complete the latest Challenge. She comments: "My teacher says I am doing really well. The Six Book Challenge has helped me so much and I'm now encouraging other people to take part."
Improving literacy skills at colleges
David Byrne, principal of Barnet and Southgate College said: "It has been an honour for students to meet acclaimed writer Bali Rai. The Reading Agency's Six Book Challenge has been a great success and has supported students to develop their reading for pleasure habits and improve their general reading and literacy skills."
Barnet and Southgate College is one of 16 colleges in the prestigious 157 Group that are taking part in the Six Book Challenge. "It has really taken off in colleges with well over 100 already signed up for 2015. We're thrilled that Barnet & Southgate College have been able to celebrate their success with the scheme with a visit from an inspiring and engaging author like Bali Rai," said Genevieve Clarke, who leads The Reading Agency's adult literacy work.
Please see our resources page or contact Genevieve Clarke if you'd like to know more about running the Six Book Challenge. Packs of reading diaries, certificates and publicity items are available in our shop including bilingual materials for use in Wales.