There was a reception the other day to celebrate the Six Book Challenge — hosted by Felicity Osborne at 11 Downing Street. On UN International Literacy Day, 8 September, The Reading Agency (who run the Six Book Challenge) called on all their partner organisations to help them reach a new goal of 50,000 participants for their annual Six Book Challenge in 2015 as part of their drive to improve adult literacy in the UK. There was a significant ‘prisons presence’ including the minister Andrew Selous, prison governors, other prison charities and Nick Walmsley talking about the impact of the Six Book Challenge at HMP Pentonville. We were pleased to hear that he included mention of the importance of dictionaries as an incentive to complete the Challenge. You can see pictures of the event here. Give a Book is proud to continue giving the dictionaries.
In the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee report published the same day — that you can read here— Genevieve Clarke, Programme Manager at The Reading Agency was quoted:
It is a very simple thing of being invited to read six things; they do not have to be books. We were talking about people who, in some cases, cannot manage the Quick Read books, which are very short. It is reading material and they log it in a reading diary; they have to write a few words about it, so it involves writing as well. At the end they receive a certificate. In many cases, that is the first certificate they have ever had. It is motivation and reward along the way: 90% of those surveyed say that taking part gives them more confidence.
Moreover, says the report, this concept of reading six books is imbedded within a structure that involves many organisations: public libraries; Further Education colleges; prisons; Unionlearn; hospitals; the Army; and other employers.
The committee calls for a national campaign on adult literacy and numeracy. They recommend that the Government launch a high-profile campaign to tackle the alarmingly low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in England. Onwards.