In a report commissioned by The Reading Agency a huge 92% of participants said they felt more confident about reading after taking part in Reading Ahead (known as the Six Book Challenge until June 2015).
At a special reception yesterday evening (9 September) at 11 Downing Street hosted by Frances Osborne, The Reading Agency launched Reading Ahead 2015-16 and unveiled the report to literacy policymakers including Skills Minister Nick Boles MP, its author ambassadors Martina Cole and young adult author Bali Rai, and publishers, funders and other charities.
Reading Ahead challenges participants to pick six reads of their choice – including online content, newspaper and magazine articles as well as books such as Quick Reads – and to record, rate and review them in order to get a certificate. Nearly 200,000 people aged 16 and above have registered for the programme to date through colleges, public libraries, adult learning providers, prisons and workplaces with 48,000 people taking part across the 2014-2015 academic year.
Bali Rai and Martina Cole with Uxbridge College students Rebecca Morgan; Samima Begum; Aidin Kazenizadeh and Tai Jin James Ong. Photo credit: Tom Parkes
Alison Clarke, Governor of HMYOI Glen Parva, also spoke at the Downing Street reception. She said: "Some young adults at Glen Parva had never read a book before embarking on the Six Book Challenge and the feedback from those who have taken part has been overwhelmingly positive. Reading opens the minds of our young adults and develops their literacy but also plays a part in reducing re-offending, as part of a range of interventions in prison focussed on giving prisoners skills and hope for the future.”
Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive, The Reading Agency said: “Reading Ahead builds on the successes of the Six Book Challenge and is designed to both inspire people to get started on their reading journey and then to help them keep reading throughout their lives. The impact research we have done on this programme has shown just how powerful it can be in building people’s skills, confidence and enjoyment of reading.”
The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge was cited as an example of a multifaceted approach to adult learning in a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee published in September 2014 calling for a more flexible, better funded and joined-up way of tackling what it describes as the ‘alarmingly low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in England’.