"'I never thought I could read one book, never mind six! I feel so proud. I've never felt so good about myself. I feel like I can do anything now."
We've had some fabulous feedback over the years but these comments from Six Book Challenge completer Noleen from Warrington, back in 2008, still mean the most to me. They also sum up the findings of our final survey for the Six Book Challenge before it relaunches as Reading Ahead, and what we've been striving for all along: an increase in skills and confidence alongside the discovery that reading can be a pleasure. Once engaged on that virtuous circle there's no reason why anyone should stop.
Taking part increases reading confidence
Here are some of the key findings of the report, which we launched at 11 Downing Street on 9 September. You can read it in full here.
Taking part raises people's confidence about reading: 92% of survey respondents say they feel more confident about reading after taking part.
Participants often borrow and buy more books after taking part: three quarters said they would either definitely (54%) or probably (24%) use a library to borrow books more often having completed the Challenge. About half said they would definitely (31%) or probably (24%) buy more books.
The Challenge enriches learning providers' services: more than nine in ten said the Challenge had enabled them to encourage literacy learners to read more.
The Challenge enables libraries to offer more for adult learners: more than nine in ten thought the 2015 had contributed to their service to adult learners, either a lot (55%) or a little (38%).
Looking forward to Reading Ahead
One of the best things about the Six Book Challenge, which I know will be sustained through Reading Ahead, has been its adaptability to different settings. The core activity remains the same - a challenge to read six things at a level that is both stretching and achievable - but the context is infinitely variable.
It's this simplicity that has won it champions in places as diverse as a McVitie's biscuit factory in Stockport, an independent living skills course at a college in North Wales and a high-security jail in south-east London. The common thread is the determination of whoever is running the Challenge - library staff, tutors and trade union learning reps - to refuse to take 'no' for an answer when trying to share their own enthusiasm for reading. And it's worked.
Together with endorsement from college principals, prison governors and workplace managers, these findings put a fair wind behind Reading Ahead. Let's use it to find ways to lure even more people into realising that the skills, confidence and enjoyment to be gained through reading can turn their lives around. If you would like to set up Reading Ahead in your organisation, please just get in touch.
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Read case studies of people who've run Reading Ahead at their organisation