"There is nothing in this world that could be closer to my heart than the work and goals of The Reading Agency." - Peter James
(Above, Peter James talking about the author fund. Photo by Robin Mayes.)
At our annual lecture on Monday 14 October 2013 celebrated crime author Peter James announced our author fund, a new social responsibility initiative which helps authors to support both libraries and people who struggle with reading.
We aim to create a fairer society by helping everyone to become a confident and enthusiastic readers. In England alone, 5.1 million people lack the literacy skills they need, and 48% of the prison population has poor literacy skills so intervention through our programmes can be vital for individuals who are struggling to read.
Peter James' author fund appeal
Peter James is fundraising for our author fund by asking fans to donate via his Just Giving page and at performances of a new adaptation of his novella The Perfect Murder. The play will be on tour in the UK from 8 January 2014, starring Les Dennis and Claire Goose, and Peter will extend his fundraising efforts to theatre goers. The Perfect Murder started life as a quick read book.
At the lecture Peter spoke about the way authors are supporting our work, and suggested ways in which they can pledge their support to the author fund. This will help those who struggle with reading to get involved in social, motivating activities like reading challenges and reading groups to help people start to enjoy reading and build their literacy skills.
- £20,000 could create skills-boosting, reading-inspired volunteering opportunities for 2,000 young people in areas of high unemployment.
The author fund is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Catalyst programme.
Peter James says: "The Reading Agency helps thousands of people to love reading and is doing hugely important work with libraries to reach readers in every kind of community. Nothing in the world could be closer to my heart than the charity's work and goals. I have adopted it as my national charity.
"At every event I do I'll be raising awareness of the charity's work, and asking people to donate to help it make an even greater impact. We all take a love of reading for granted, but there are millions of people who struggle with reading and can't participate properly in education, employment, cultural or community life. Help me help The Reading Agency to change that."
Reaction so far
The reaction to the author fund from authors has been very positive and they are already finding ways to help by making financial donations, donating royalties from eBooks, prize money or fees from articles. As 'money-can't-buy' raffle prizes for the lecture Neil Gaiman provided 'A Neil Gaiman library' - a wonderful collection of signed titles including several special editions, and superstar children's author Cressida Cowell offered a private studio visit.
Other Author Fund supporters include David Nicholls, Karin Slaughter, Andy McNab and Julian Barnes.
Authors can help by donating short stories for competitions, bucket collections at events, creating Just Giving pages or tweeting and blogging in support of the charity's campaigns and helping them to build support networks.
Contact Ffion.Dean@readingagency.org.uk if you're an author and you'd like to find out more about contributing to the author fund.
Read more about our annual lecture given by Neil Gaiman. You can also watch and read the full lecture.
Catch up with what people said about the lecture on social media via our #ReadingAgencyLecture storify.