Well over 100 further education and sixth form colleges now run the Six Book Challenge with more each year winning awards for the number of completers they support. Most of them promote the scheme in the college library with staff linking to tutors running courses ranging from Supported Learning to pre-GCSE, ESOL to bricklaying and media studies. Quite a few have now made it compulsory for their students to take part.
See above a short film with tips we've gathered from colleges over the last couple of years and more below drawn from recent feedback:
1. Get tutors and senior staff on side
Encourage senior management to write the Challenge into their reporting plans and talk about it to Ofsted inspectors. Get tutors to build it into their class work and tell them about the new website for participants.
Jack Carney, principal of The Manchester College, said: "The biggest impact has been for individual learners. We have seen students going from being quite shy to being confident and good with language, expanding their thinking and their perspective on life."
Many tutors weave the Challenge into their course delivery. The British Council's ESOL Nexus project has created a lesson plan to introduce the scheme to ESOL students.
2. Make the library the centre of Challenge activity
Link the Challenge into operational targets for the library and use the scheme to raise the profile of the library across the college. Set targets for different library sites to introduce some competition. Weave the Challenge into students' library induction and introduce them to library staff who can help them find appealing books. Promote the Challenge on library noticeboards, plasma screens, websites and on social media. Start an informal reading group or a regular drop-in session for participants to talk about what they are reading and swap recommendations.
3. Start with a bang
Hold a party, a competition or a musical event. This is a real chance to show off the library and get previous Challenge completers to talk about their experience. (Photo: Stanmore College's cake to encourage sign ups)
Deborah Ward, Oldham 6th Form College (pictured here with Shubena) said: "We held a 'Tea Party' in the Learning Resources Centre to launch the challenge. Students and staff drank tea and ate cake whilst listening to musicians playing the trumpet. Last year one of our students, Shubena Begum, won a Kobo eReader in the national prize draw, and she came along to encourage students to sign up. We gave a free book to the first 30 who did so!"
4. Promote rewards from the start
Make sure everyone knows what prizes you are offering - perhaps some local ones as well as the national draw. And you might want to reward people for other aspects such as 'first completer', 'most detailed diary' or 'best Challenge advocate'.
5. Keep up the momentum
This is critical. You may want to introduce a different theme or initiative for each month to spark interest. Use national events such as World Book Night, Learning at Work Week and Adult Learners' Week. Small incentives often help to get students back to the library as do ways of showing off their reviews and recommendations.
Roxy Perrin from Moulton College, Northamptonshire says: "Working with small groups consistently has worked well. Also trying other materials such as plays/magazines rather than just relying on books has increased interest. We are running a celebratory event towards the end of May before some of our students leave the college. We also hope to have a group of students perform a short play they are currently writing inspired by reading short plays."
6. Celebrate with even more of a bang
Plan your award ceremony well in advance and make it a chance to link with staff who aren't already involved. Invite a local celebrity - the mayor, an author, a sports star - and aim to get some press coverage. Involve catering students to provide the food and music and drama students to lay on entertainment. Encourage completers to ask family and friends and write congratulation letters. Make a film of the event as Northampton College has done this year. Get everyone excited about the next Challenge. (Photo: ESOL students at Westminster Kingsway College)
You can order materials from our shop and find further information on our resources page .
Please contact Genevieve Clarke if you have any questions about running the Challenge in colleges.