The Reading Agency is a national charity using the proven power of reading to tackle life’s big challenges. With one in 6 people in the UK struggling to read it is clear that poor literacy is a major social issue.
The Reading Agency’s national adult literacy programme, Reading Ahead, is part of the solution. Reading Ahead uses reading for pleasure to encourage young people and adults to engage with and enjoy reading; building their confidence and skills and delivering all the benefits that improved literacy can bring to everyday life, education and employment.
Our 2018-19 Reading Ahead evaluation found that as a result of taking part in Reading Ahead:
- 82% of participants said they enjoyed reading more
- 77% said they felt more confident about reading
- 76% felt their reading skills have improved
How does it work?
Reading Ahead is delivered through public libraries, adult learning organisations, colleges, workplaces and prisons. The programme invites participants to pick six reads of their choice and record, rate and review them in a personal reading diary. It’s not just about books - participants can read blogs and poems to recipes and graphic novels. The aim is to challenge themselves and try something new.
After completing their diary they receive a certificate and can enter a national prize draw. Our winner in 2018-19 will have their name in Adele Parks’ next novel, with ten runners up receiving gift vouchers. Organisations can also enter prize draws to win author visits.
Who takes part?
In 2018-19 Reading Ahead reached 30,048 young people and adults - 12,865 through learning providers, 9,180 in prisons, 6,570 through public libraries and their partners and 1,104 in workplaces (Reading Ahead Evaluation Report 2018/19).
The majority of our Reading Ahead completers took part through a learning provider. In the college setting, the library often leads on administering the programme, and many are supported by colleagues in different departments for delivery. The programme can be tailored to varied audiences and it is often targeted towards specific groups of students including those studying further education course, SEN (Special Educational Needs) students, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students and incorporated into GCSE English classes.
In 2018-19, 69% of learning providers who took part in Reading Ahead partnered with ESOL tutors to run the programme. Juliette, an ESOL and GCSE English teacher at Lewisham Southwark College explains: “[Reading Ahead] is excellent for ESOL students: it develops not only their confidence in reading English language books…but their enjoyment of stories and books too…It has definitely dispelled the idea that reading English books is too hard and therefore a chore.”
Reading Ahead is used to broaden vocabulary, raise confidence levels and combat social isolation amongst students.
What’s the link with Quick Reads?
Reading Ahead works because it’s based on personal choice and great content. Quick Reads sit at the heart of the offer; short books by well-known authors, specially commissioned by The Reading Agency to engage less confident readers. Quick Reads are perfect for people starting out on their reading journey; they provide short and accessible but brilliant quick reads and provide the chance to try different authors and genres.
We work with all our partners to ensure these books reach those who may find reading difficult. They are a perfect entry point to reading for pleasure.
Quick Reads is currently funded by a generous donation from author Jojo Moyes. Read about the 2020 list of titles here.
Find out more about running Reading Ahead by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.