The Reading Agency is delighted that bestselling novelist and former SAS soldier Andy McNab will lead its 2013 Six Book Challenge to help get even more adults reading more. He will be meeting Six Book Challenge participants at events all over the UK and all completers will receive a certificate signed by Andy, in his role as 2013 Challenge ambassador.
With new materials for the 2013 Six Book Challenge available to order now, Andy is hoping the 2013 Challenge will beat this year's record-breaking results, which have seen 23,500 people sign up so far. The Six Book Challenge encourages less confident readers to develop a new reading habit and improve their skills at the same time. Participants are invited to pick six reads of their choice and complete a reading diary in order to receive incentives along the way, a certificate and the chance to enter a national prize draw. Ninety per cent of survey respondents this year said that they were more confident about reading after taking part in the Six Book Challenge.
Andy McNab says: "I'm a perfect example of how reading can change your life. I had the reading age of an 11 year old when I was 17 and I only became a confident reader when I joined the Army. But once I started I couldn't stop - and that's what the Six Book Challenge is all about."
Launched in 2008, the annual Six Book Challenge is run by independent charity The Reading Agency to help tackle the UK's continuing skills deficit. Recent Government figures show that 15% (5.1 million) of the working age population in England are still at or below the literacy level expected of an 11 year old. (See "Notes to editors".)
So far this year, 12,000 adult readers have signed up through public libraries, 6,000 through further education and sixth form colleges, 4,000 through prisons and 1,500 through workplaces. Forty-four organisations have won one of the Six Book Challenge's new gold, silver and bronze awards for their number of completers, with Northampton College, Brent Libraries and Blaenau Gwent Libraries winning gold. Completer Yvonne Hirst, a cleaning supervisor at De Montfort University, won the 2012 Six Book Challenge prize draw trip to London, and three runners-up have been given Kobo eReaders.
"It's brilliant to have Andy McNab's support because he know what it's like to struggle with reading and can talk about how he's turned that round. We're delighted that Kobo are donating prizes again and we've got an ambitious new partnership with the Rugby League World Cup 2013 which we'll be releasing details of soon. The Six Book Challenge is definitely on the move in its sixth year," says The Reading Agency's adult literacy specialist Genevieve Clarke.
Jillian Leader, 49, from Bolton knows first-hand about the life-changing impact of being able to read, and the confidence boost that doing the Six Book Challenge has given her. Jillian left school as an unconfident reader, with very few qualifications and undiagnosed dyslexia. But two years ago, now a grandmother, Jillian signed up to study literacy and numeracy at Bolton Community College, where supportive tutors introduced her to the Six Book Challenge.
Jillian says: "Now reading takes me into a different world. If you have got a book you are interested in, you feel like you are in the book - wrapped up in it and going along with the characters. Reading and doing the Six Book Challenge has also helped me with my spelling. Despite my dyslexia I've got more confidence."
Jillian, who has had fibromyalgia for over 30 years, and also lives with depression, adds: "I think it's also helped me with my health. My doctor said to me recently that I'm looking at the world differently, and all the receptionists at my surgery - because I've had to go so often I've got to know them all - say I am looking better. Now I want to go so, so far with my reading and learning! I'm going to go back to college again to do more English and I am going to do a counselling course too--I want to help other people who have the sorts of problems I have had. Being at college and doing the Six Book Challenge has made me feel really good, like I'm doing something special."
'Andy McNab' is the pseudonym of a former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier. He first came to public prominence with Bravo Two Zero, his account of the failed SAS patrol for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1991, to add to medals he had won previously in action, becoming the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993. He has written several non-fiction books, plus a series of thrillers featuring Nick Stone and two series of young adult books. His new thriller Red Notice will be published in October and a third Quick Read title next February.
Also continuing to give her valued support to the Six Book Challenge is top ten bestselling author Adele Parks who has been ambassador for 2012. Adele says: "I've been proud to support this wonderful scheme and thrilled to meet many Challenge completers this year who have worked so hard to reach their goal."
- There will be Six Book Challenge training day for practitioners on Friday 9 November 2012, plus a programme of half-day networking events around the UK. For more details, please contact Jenny Warner on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 324 2545
Deborah Hyde, Oasis Media
email@example.com or 07956 320 486
Notes to editors
- The Reading Agency is an independent charity working to inspire more people to read more. It is funded by the Arts Council, and has a formal partnership with public library services.
- Quick Reads is a publishing initiative for less confident readers which links closely with the Six Book Challenge (www.quickreads.org.uk)
- The Reading Agency will be running a reading programme to link in with the Rugby League World Cup 2013 which will include use of the Six Book Challenge (www.rlwc2013.com)