On 17 June, as part of Adult Learners' Week, we launched new promotional materials for our Reading Ahead programme for young people and adults who struggle with the written word or who don't read for pleasure.
One in six people of working age finds reading difficult. However, research shows that those who read for pleasure have improved employment opportunities, higher life satisfaction, better health and stronger vocabulary skills.
Reading Ahead is the gateway to these opportunities. This is the new name for the Six Book Challenge which, since 2008, has inspired less confident readers to develop an enjoyment of reading at the same time as improving their literacy skills. More than 150,000 people aged 16 and above have registered for the programme to date through public libraries, adult learning, colleges, prisons and workplaces, with nearly 90% of survey respondents in 2014 saying they felt more confident about reading after taking part. Reading Ahead will also support young people working towards Grade C English GCSE, who are now required to stay in education and training until the age of 18, and motivate learners of all ages on courses ranging from supported learning and ESOL to functional skills and childcare.
Colourful new design
Reading Ahead will continue to challenge participants to pick six reads of their choice and record, rate and review them in order to get a certificate. Reading diaries, certificates and publicity material with a colourful design and a new call to action - "Choose six reads. Challenge yourself to get Reading Ahead." - can be ordered now from our shop so that participants can start the scheme from September onwards.
Genevieve Clarke, Reading Ahead programme manager, says:
Reading Ahead will encourage even more people to get into reading. The new name reflects the fact that people can take part with other types of reading such as poems, short articles or websites if books feel too daunting. We want it to be a personal challenge whether they're just starting out or broadening their reading horizons.
The benefits of reading for pleasure
Susan Roberts is achievement and learning support team leader at East Kent College Broadstairs, where 161 students took the challenge for the first time this year, with activity led by the college's Learning Zone. She says:
We've been delighted with the results. Everyone who took part wanted to do it and really enjoyed it, helped by the fact that there's no obligation or pressure. The results are beyond our expectation: so many students are now engaged with reading; it's helped to demystify books, and encouraged reading for all at every level. Tutors tell us that it has increased reading and comprehension levels, and that supports course achievement.
Wayne Bywater, 30, who completed the programme whilst attending a literacy course in Derbyshire, is proof of the life-changing transformation that reading for pleasure can help achieve. He says:
The first time I'd done my six reads and got my certificate I showed my mother, and she was over the moon. It means so much to me, to be able to say 'I've done that'! I've even had a mini-promotion. I work in a lorry yard, and now I'm starting to help the fitters with general servicing and stripping engines. I can read the manuals, and I can read the instructions and figures on equipment! Every day's like a new discovery. I'm really proud of myself, but I want to go on and get a qualification in motor vehicle studies. Now I feel I've got the courage to try.
Order Reading Ahead materials from our shop
Find out more about Reading Ahead
Read stories from people who've completed the Six Book Challenge or those who've run it at their organisation.