Reading Agency presents report to Downing Street

Reading Agency presents report to Downing Street

The Reading Agency has presented a report to Downing Street showing that 92% of participants in its Reading Ahead challenge felt more confident about reading after taking part.

The charity presented its findings into the impact of Reading Ahead, which was known as the Six Book Challenge from its launch in 2008 until June this year, at a reception at 11 Downing Street hosted by writer Frances Osborne, wife of the Chancellor George Osborne. Also present were skills minister Nick Boles MP, authors Martina Cole and Bali Rai, and publishers, funders and other charities.

To compile the Six Book Challenge Impact Report 2015, report author Tom Holman surveyed 1,344 participants from libraries, prisons, learning providers, young offenders institutions and workplaces, asking them to identify the benefits of reading six books and keeping a record of their progress.

More than nine in 10 participants (92%) said they felt more confident about reading after taking part and 95% said they enjoyed reading at the end of the challenge. More than half said they read more than the allotted six books and 49% said their reading skills improved.

The organisations who signed up to the challenge also said they saw the benefit, as 89% of library authorities, 51% of learning providers and 42% of prisons said they now include it in their action or delivery plans.

From left: Bali Rai, Uxbridge College students Rebecca Morgan, Samima Begum, Aidin Kazenizadeh and  Tai Jin James Ong, and Martina Cole. Photo credit: Tom Parkes

Alison Clarke, the governor of young offender’s institution Glen Parva who attended the reception at 11 Downing Street, 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 of the Reading Agency, said the research shows the power of the challenge to improve people’s enjoyment of reading.

“I am particularly pleased that it has proven so valuable for young people, at a time when many of them will be planning their careers and deciding what path to take,” she said. “I look forward to seeing how participation will change many more people’s lives in the months and years ahead.”

A full copy of the report is available online on the Reading Agency’s website.