As a charity CEO, there are good days and there are bad days. My best days are definitely the ones when I hear about someone's life we've changed through our work. It felt very apt, in the week of International Literacy Day, to get news of Jillian Leader whose confidence and health have improved since completing the Six Book Challenge. She's now planning on undertaking both GCSE in English and a counseling courses at her local college to take her learning to the next level .
This week we launch our 2013 Six Book Challenge, our annual initiative to help tackle the UK's continuing skills deficit by inspiring people across the UK to build their literacy skills and feel more confident about reading. We launched it five years ago, and I vividly remember going to the very first award ceremony in Glasgow to meet some of the people who'd just completed it. The tears in the eyes of their families told me all I needed to know about having made the right decision.
The Six Book Challenge is very simple. Participants are invited to pick six reads (these could be Quick Reads short books, poems, magazine articles) and record their reading in a diary in order to receive incentives and a certificate. For some people who struggle with the written word, this is seriously daunting, so key to the scheme is the support of tutors, librarians and prison staff. They encourage people through the Challenge, often with life changing results - 90% of those who take part say they feel more confident about reading.
Increasingly, we're benefiting from hugely welcome support from authors who feel as strongly as we do about the need to find new ways to tackle society's literacy problems. The latest government figures show that a shocking 5.1 million people in England alone lack the literacy skills they need. We're not going to get that figure down unless we find creative new ways to help people enjoy reading.
Adele Parks is our 2012 Ambassador, and has been busy awarding certificates to completers and blogging about our work. And we're thrilled to have the increasing support of author Andy McNab for the 2013 Challenge, who will be visiting prisons and colleges to help spur on those doing the Challenge.
And we're building new partnerships all the time, to help spread the programme's impact - great to have Kobo's support for prizes, and we're excited to be developing plans with the Rugby League World Cup for 2013.
Everyone deserves an equal chance to become a reader. Please help us create a fairer society by making a donation so that more people can change their lives by doing the Six Book Challenge.