Since 2013 Give a Book has been involved with the Reading Ahead programme run by The Reading Agency. Generously supported by Harper Collins, we have been giving mini-dictionaries as prizes or incentives to prisoners who complete this adult literacy programme—the largest in UK prisons.
The task sounds simple – choose 6 books (it used to be called the Six Book Challenge) and write down something about them in your Reading diary. On completion you will receive your own mini-dictionary from Give a Book.
It’s well-documented that literacy rates in prisons are painfully low compared to those of the general population –over 50% of prisoners read no better than an 11-year-old.
Many people learn to read for the first time in prison. At a prison reading group we met one such prisoner who had learnt to read inside, at the age of 39, in tandem with his little daughter on the outside. And here he was now, he said during the group, reading fiction! You can read the guest-blog he wrote for us here. He has also written a book about his experience.
Since we started 5 years ago we’ve given out more than 35,000 mini-dictionaries to people who have taken up the challenge of literacy while in prison. That’s a whole lot of hope. And if you want to know one reason we’re so hooked on dictionaries you can read this blog on our friend Book Clubs in Schools website.
Reading Ahead is about to get an exciting new look. And the Summer Reading Challenge is about to start in libraries all across the UK. The topic this year is Mischief Makers. Sign up soon!