This year's prize draw for prisons running the Six Book Challenge was won by HMYOI Deerbolt near Durham.
Librarian Jackie Woods has run the Six Book Challenge very successfully at the prison and achieved one of our new bronze awards this year as 50 of her learners completed the Challenge. She has also been involved in a special project for young offenders institutions supported by funding from the Clarissa Luard Award.
As their prize, Six Book Challenge participants at HMYOI Deerbolt asked for a visit from author Danny King, popular for his humorous books such as the The Burglar Diaries and Thieves Like Us and co-writer of Wild Bill for which he and writer Dexter Fletcher recently won the best first feature film award from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.
Danny kept the audience at HMYOI Deerbolt entertained with stories from his journalistic career including time spent as editor of Mayfair magazine. He talked about how times have changed and that people are now able to self publish their books on the internet. During the break, several young men talked to Danny about his books. One young man asked to hear more about the Access course Danny mentioned earlier, as he was due to be released the following day. Danny spent time with him explaining how he went to university as a mature student. "I want to go to university but I'm unsure where to start," he said. "Danny explained how Access courses work and that I could do one as a mature student. This is what I want to do."
After the break Danny read from his book The Burglar Diaries and explained where the inspiration for his characters comes from. Danny kindly finished his talk by handing out certificates to people who had recently completed the Six Book Challenge. It went down well with the audience.
"I felt he was very inspiring because he made me think about writing a book of my own. It would be about prison life and everything that's gone on since my accident."
"Danny was interesting and and down to earth. I enjoyed talking to him."
Danny has also visited HMP Belmarsh recently and received a similar positive reaction from prisoners and staff. This was arranged as part of a special project funded by the City Bridge Trust to ensure that all London prisons can take part in the Six Book Challenge and link it to mental health as well as literacy outcomes. We are very grateful for this support and will be reporting on the project early in 2013.
If you are interested in running the Six Book Challenge in your prison, public library, college or place of work, visit our resources page.
If you'd like to take part in the Six Book Challenge please contact Genevieve Clarke on Genevieve.Clarke@readingagency.org.uk and we'll put you in touch with an organisation in your area who is running it.