When I was little, my school had a visit from a blind person who showed us how to use Braille. Already a keen reader, I was both fascinated and appalled at the same time, and can remember going on and on to my poor mum about what it would be like if you couldn't use your eyes to read. I just couldn't get my head round it.
So I've always been proud that The Reading Agency partners the RNIB in a range of work, and I've been so moved by seeing what visually impaired people are saying about reading in new research we've just completed, commissioned by the RNIB and working with research partners, LISU Loughborough University. The results remind us never, ever to take the power of reading for granted. One survey participant said: "I believe I would go insane without reading for pleasure. I really do. It's that important." You can read an executive summary, the full research report and case studies here.
This month we've been focusing more widely on reading's ability to make you feel better. As well as the research on the importance of reading to blind and visually impaired people, we've been prompted by World Mental Health Day to ask people to join in our Mood-boosting Books initiative. You can find many great recommendations tweeted by readers here.
Mood-boosting Books runs in libraries, colleges, and hospitals. If you want to join in you can get posters and leaflets from our shop or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As a charity, reading and mental health is an area of increasing focus for us. We're always exploring new ways to get the benefits of reading to more people, and with 6 million people with depression or crippling anxiety conditions, we want to make sure they don't miss out on reading's healing effects, for which there is a building evidence base.
Get involved with reading groups
Reading groups are a great way to support people's well-being and there are a growing number of them taking place in libraries and health settings - check out the Hill of Happiness club in Leicester and Feel Better with a Book in Essex informed by the work of The Reader Organisation. If you are looking for a reading group to join, go to our Reading Groups for Everyone website.