Ben O’Donnell appointed Head of Children and Young People’s Reading

14 June 2019: The Reading Agency has appointed Ben O’Donnell as Head of Children and Young People’s Reading.

O’Donnell joins The Reading Agency from Discover Children’s Story Centre where he is Head of Learning. This involves directing the Newham Word Festival and managing a portfolio of creative literacy projects for children, young people and families in and beyond East London.

He was previously Programme Manager for primary schools at BookTrust, where he ran Booktime (now called Time to Read), the Read for My School competition and the Welsh-language Pori Drwy Stori programme. Before working at BookTrust he delivered short-term courses towards training and employment for 16 to 25-year-olds through The Prince’s Trust.

O’Donnell says: “I’m thrilled to join The Reading Agency at a time when reading and all its benefits are increasingly needed. I am looking forward to the challenge of helping navigate the children’s programmes through times ahead, supporting libraries, children, young people and communities to discover the joy of reading. My ambition is to build on the phenomenal success of the Summer Reading Challenge and catalyse its good will and reputation to create more generations of lifelong readers.”

Sue Wilkinson MBE, CEO of The Reading Agency, says: “We are very excited about Ben starting in his role as Head of Children and Young People’s Reading, to continue and build upon the remarkable work done by his predecessor Anne Sarrag MBE. The 2018 review of the Challenge demonstrated both its reach and impact and the huge appetite to involve ever more children in the future. Ben’s great experience in the field of children’s literacy means he is perfectly equipped to fulfil our hopes for the Challenge in the years ahead.”

The Summer Reading Challenge will launch this year in England and Wales on Saturday 13 July and in Scotland on 22 June. The theme for 2019 is ‘Space Chase’, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

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