The Reading Agency is relaunching its Reading Ahead literacy programme on 1st February with a new digital platform, and support from authors including Andy McNab, Adele Parks and Martina Cole.
Dreda Say Mitchell, Bali Rai, Peter James and Mahsuda Snaith are also supporting the launch by sharing what they love about reading, why it is important, and recommendations to get people started on their Reading Ahead journey.
The programme uses the power of reading to tackle life’s big challenges by supporting less confident adult readers to build their reading skills and confidence. Reading Ahead challenges participants to choose six reads, and record their thoughts in a reading diary.
Author recommendations include Stevie Wonder’s lyrics to “Living for the City” from Mitchell, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and the graphic novel version from Peter James, and the “best recipe ever for toad in the hole” on the BBC website from Andy McNab.
Mitchell said: “The Reading Agency connects with hard-to-reach communities to improve literacy skills and gets people who otherwise might not pick up a book, reading. I am a huge admirer of what the agency does, so what an honour to be part of such an innovative and groundbreaking initiative that truly makes a difference in people’s lives.”
In 2018/19, more than 30,000 people took part in Reading Ahead through public libraries, colleges, workplaces and prisons. An evaluation of the 2019/20 programme will be published in February 2021.
In response to the pandemic, The Reading Agency has taken Reading Ahead online with the option to take part through a digital platform. The new website will enable participants to record their reading and share ratings and reviews. It will include a unique reading database and reading recommendation tool, Find A Read, which is searchable by reading level.
Debbie Hicks, creative director at The Reading Agency, said: “We know that to be a reader is really important to life chances and quality. We also know that reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to build reading skills and confidence, which is why Reading Ahead works. We’re therefore delighted to be launching our new Reading Ahead digital platform, using the proven power of reading to help tackle poor literacy and build a nation of readers.”
The programme is supported by Quick Reads, which commissions short books by bestselling authors specifically written to be easy to read and engage new audiences. Six new Quick Reads will be published on 27th May 2021.