8 September was International Literacy Day, organised by UNESCO to highlight the world's literacy challenges. In the UK, there is still a great deal to be done. 1 in 6 adults in England and Northern Ireland struggles to read, while 16-24 year olds in England have lower levels of literacy than young people in 21 out of 24 countries in the OECD.
But what's it like to struggle to read, and how does it feel to build your skills and confidence? We spoke to some of the remarkable people who have taken part in Reading Ahead, our programme for young people and adults who lack confidence with reading which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
Theresa: "Reading is time in my own world"
Theresa completed Reading Ahead in 2016 through Derbyshire Community Adult Education Service. She recently delivered a speech about her experiences at an adult education conference and has just achieved her level one qualification in English functional skills.
"As a child, I did have books at home that my mum bought me, and I would try to read them. At school though, I was very shy and I didn't have the confidence to tell the teachers I was struggling. I have a lazy eye; I have to wear glasses and I felt that everyone would laugh at me and say I was thick.
"When my son and daughter started coming home from school and asking for help with their homework, I couldn't grasp anything, and I had to get them to ask their dad. It made me feel stressed and upset, but I want to do the best I can for them, so I thought, 'I've got to do something about this'.
"Completing Reading Ahead meant a lot to me - it gave me confidence and reading helps me learn things I didn't know about. For me, reading is also time on my own, in my own world, when I can switch off.
Mohamed: "I used to carry a dictionary around with me"
Mohamed moved to the UK from Yemen aged 14 and took part in Reading Ahead (then called the Six Book Challenge) in 2013 at Warrington Libraries, to support his study for his English GCSE. He was named Adult Learner of the Year by NIACE in 2015 and is now studying for a PhD.
"When I moved to the UK from Yemen I had lived in a small village where I hardly spoke any Arabic let alone any English, so going to secondary school in England as a year nine pupil for the first time was scary and a big challenge! Not many people where we live in Warrington speak Arabic. I used to carry a dictionary around with me all the time.
"School was hard. By the time I left at 16 I'd managed to get 8 GCSEs including maths and science ones, but not English. My English tutor thought the Six Book Challenge would help me with my GCSE. Being able to choose your own books to read, being able to read what I wanted to when I wanted to and in my own time definitely helped me to keep going.
"Finishing the Challenge felt like a big achievement. I was proud of myself and being able to put it on my CV pushed my confidence up. Being able to read with confidence felt like the difference between being blind and then being able to see."
Nikola: "Never give up"
Nikola completed Reading Ahead (then the Six Book Challenge) in 2009 at Harlesden Library. When she started the programme it had been a long time since she had read a book or studied. She is now working as a teaching assistant at a local primary school.
"The Six Book Challenge, and the community education classes that I did, gave me the confidence to go out there and provide for the needs of the children I work with. It enhanced my English and maths, and I feel confident that I have the background and skills and experience to help them succeed - and they relate to me, because I'm from this community. Each year, at the end of the school year, I get so much from seeing them move on feeling confident, in the way they are speaking and reading.
"I am still reading. It's always been a learning curve for me; and I always have my dictionary beside me, looking for new and bigger words! To anyone else out there who might be feeling embarrassed or un-confident about their reading, I'd say 'Never give up.' Go ahead and check out what your local library can offer, or what's available in terms of community education etc. Don't be shy, just go along and visit, and see what's on offer. The first time you go it might all seem a bit scary and strange, but it'll be less the next time, and you'll meet people and have the chance to make friends."
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Read more facts about literacy in the UK