• Ann Cleeves pledges to name character in one of her new books after winner of literacy prize draw
• Authors Dreda Say Mitchell, Andy McNab, Bali Rai, Adele Parks and Martina Cole also pledge their support
• Reading Ahead celebrates 10th anniversary this year
• Programme has reached 275,000 less confident readers since 2008 in colleges, workplaces, prisons and libraries
8 September 2017: Bestselling writer Ann Cleeves, the author behind ITV's Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Shetland on BBC One, will name a character in one of her new books after the winner of a national literacy prize draw. Ann's latest Vera novel, The Seagull, was published on 7 September.
The competition is open to all young people and adults who complete The Reading Agency's Reading Ahead programme, to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
"To share the gift of reading and of stories is a brilliant thing, so I am delighted to support this fantastic programme which helps people gain the confidence to read for pleasure. Please do get your organisation involved; one of the people you support may find themselves in my next novel."
Ann's name will also appear on the certificate given to completers of the programme, alongside bestselling authors Martina Cole, Dreda Say Mitchell, Bali Rai, Adele Parks and Andy McNab, who have also pledged their support.
"I help my children with their reading more"
Reading Ahead (formerly called the Six Book Challenge) was launched in 2008 to support young people and adults by changing their perception of reading, opening up opportunities and building their confidence. 275,000 less confident readers have taken part since then at public libraries, adult learning organisations, colleges, workplaces and prisons.
Theresa, 33, completed Reading Ahead in 2016 to support her English classes at Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service. She says:
"Completing it meant a lot to me - it gave me confidence and reading helps me learn things I didn't know about. It has helped me to help my children with their reading a lot more than I used to."
Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians and Head of Libraries in Manchester, says:
"Reading Ahead has greatly enhanced our city-wide reading campaign, Read Manchester. It is an integral part of our public library reading offer - engaging residents, raising the profile of reading and encouraging partnership working."
Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, says:
"The first ten years of Reading Ahead have been hugely rewarding for everyone who has taken part. It's been fabulous to see so many people in such different settings gain the confidence to read for pleasure, with all the benefits it can bring. We owe a big thank you to everyone who has supported the programme so far. We know it works so let's use it to create thousands more new readers in the next ten years."
About Reading Ahead
• Reading Ahead invites participants to pick six reads and record, rate and review them in a diary in order to get a certificate. They can read newspapers, magazines and digital text as well as books.
• Reading Ahead has been run by more than 90 further education and sixth form colleges across the UK this year, and is increasingly being used to support students who are taking or retaking GCSE English Language as well Functional Skills and ESOL courses.
• Reading Ahead has reached around 66,000 prisoners over ten years.
• More than nine in ten (93%) organisations think Reading Ahead increased their participants' reading confidence and enjoyment of reading in 2016/17.
Reading Ahead has had a transformational effect on many people over the last 10 years. Find out how Mohamed, Theresa and Nikola have benefited and how their lives have changed since.
Order promotional packs to run Reading Ahead at your organisation
See the roll of honour of organisations who achieved the most completers in 2016-2017