We had a record 4,800 entries for the national Six Book Challenge completers' prize this year from across the UK.
Individual prize winner
The lucky name pulled out of the hat was Gillian Grindley, 64, who completed the Six Book Challenge as part of a family literacy group which she has been attending at her grandson's local primary school near Oswestry.
Gillian regularly babysits her three grandchildren, who are aged eight, six and two, and started going to family literacy classes because she wanted to do her utmost to help them with their learning and school work. She and her fellow classmates were invited to enroll for the Six Book Challenge when they were visited by Shropshire Council's library service. They signed up enthusiastically, and thanks largely to the special, short Quick Reads books that they were offered to read, Gilian found herself reading books that she would never have chosen for herself.
Gillian's prize is a trip to London for herself plus a guest, and will include two tickets to a West End show, a night in a London hotel, travel expenses and £150 spending money.
"I didn't expect to win a prize, and it's been lovely," says Gillian, "but the best thing about completing the Six Book Challenge is that it's made me look at a wider range of books to read. I'd always read novels, and the size of a book can sometimes be daunting if it is something you've never tried before, but as part of the Challenge I read Andy McNab's biography in the Quick Reads series: I've never read autobiographies or biographies but I really enjoyed it."
Gillian's literacy tutor, Jane Fraser, says: "The Six Book Challenge was the perfect vehicle for my learners to build on their literacy skills and to develop a love of reading, which is fabulous to see. I know that their positivity and enjoyment will be passed down to their children and hopefully, their children too. I am thrilled that Gillian has won the award and I know that the rest of her group will be too".
"The Reading Agency's Six Book Challenge has been a great catalyst for libraries and Family Learning in Shropshire working closely together to spread the word that reading really is for everyone," says Michael Lewis, library service manager at Shropshire Council.
Individual runners up
Three runners-up have received an ereader kindly donated by Kobo. The runners-up were:
- Samantha Harper, who has been studying Level 1 Health & Social Care at Uxbridge College having already completed Entry 2 and 3 English in previous years.
- Susan Flemming, who has been involved in a family literacy class supported by Knowsley Libraries and was pleased that the Six Book Challenge had got her back into the habit of reading.
- A level student Shubena Begum at Oldham 6th Form College who valued the chance to read for pleasure alongside her studies.
Colleges prize draw
Pictured above are learning resource centre staff from Barnet and Southgate College who won the prize draw for colleges. They have been running the Six Book Challenge for three years now, steadily growing its reach and impact. This time they registered nearly 200 students ranging from pre-Entry to Level 1 and achieved 50 completers by encouraging tutors to weave the scheme into reading targets for 1-1 and group work.
They were thrilled to win the prize and look forward to hosting an author in the autumn term. As Jo Turner, Learning and Community Adviser, says: "We feel that the Six Book Challenge contributes greatly towards an inclusive community atmosphere which enhances our relationships and understanding of students and their needs. We are building on that every year and aiming to increase student involvement."
Prison prize draw
The prize draw for prisons was won by HMP Swaleside in Kent who will be welcoming bestselling writer Martina Cole in October. "We have been running the Six Book challenge at HMP Swaleside for the past five years and it is always very popular," explains Alison Hayton, Prison Library Development Manager for Kent Libraries. "We advertise it on the wings, in the library and via the education department, using the posters and flyers which we purchase from The Reading Agency. We have also had much interest simply through our staff and orderlies encouraging customers to take part.
"Participants, including staff, are encouraged to read any books of their choice. This year we launched the Challenge at the end of February, and it ran until the end of May, and we gave out 200 diaries. It has been particularly successful thanks to the hard work of the library staff and especially our library orderlies, who not only enthusiastically promoted it to our customers, but more importantly encouraged 118 participants to finish and claim their rewards!
"We have found that offering a reward encourages less confident readers to take part. On completion, successful participants could claim a 'Six Book Challenge champion reader' mug, or notebook and pen and chocolate bar, and of course the Six book Challenge 2013 certificate. It is always encouraging to read the comments written in the back of the completed diaries, to find out what a difference the Challenge has made to those in prison; whether it be the opportunity to re read old favourites or new books, increasing confidence, extending knowledge and improving literacy skills, or simply providing the opportunity to relax and escape from it all."
And finally the workplace prize, run in association with the Campaign for Learning's Learning at Work Day, was won by the HMRC office in Southend where the Public and Commercial Services Union learning reps have recruited 50 participants. They launched the scheme on Learning at Work Day itself and supplemented it with 'Stuart's Challenge'. For this extra prize participants made recommendations for what Union learning rep Stuart should read for his own Six Book Challenge. The participants who suggested the 6 books Stuart chose to read were awarded a £5 book token each and Stuart will give a bigger prize for the book he liked the best in December. The HMRC office in Southend are also working with Southend Libraries to have a monthly event with a local author and now will be treated to a visit from a top author published by Transworld Publishers as their prize.
There's still time to sign up to the Six Book Challenge in some areas of the country. Contact your local public library to see if they're running it with Rugby League World Cup materials or alongside the Summer Reading Challenge.
Do tell us your story about being part of or running the Six Book Challenge - we'd love to hear from you. Please get in touch with Genevieve Clarke.
If you work at a public library, college, prison or work place and are interested in running the Six Book Challenge visit our resources page.