Reading Agency ideas and resources

Networking with other organisations helps us to make our courses as interesting and inspiring as possible so it’s well worth sharing that the Reading Agency has some practical ideas for enriching the adult education curriculum by encouraging reading for pleasure. Their popular Six Book Challenge can be a stand-alone activity and is also a stimulating way of spicing up English for Speakers of Other Languages, literacy courses and other community learning.

There’s more information at and plenty of time to prepare for next year’s Challenge.

The idea of book groups for adults who haven’t been confident readers is also worthy of further exploration. The Reading Agency’s ‘Find a Read’ database at is a good resource showing the level of reading ability needed for each book, meaning that materials can be tailored by the readers’ interests and confidence.

It’s patronising and short-sighted to assume that people who are still developing confidence in reading might not become enthused by arts, literature, drama, history, politics or their community or want outlets to express themselves in a variety of media so these ideas and resources are very welcome.

About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn:

5 Responses to Reading Agency ideas and resources

  1. Judith Boardman says:

    I had a visit to my literacy class in Huddersfield this week from a librarian at Kirklees Library sevice, to talk about the six book challenge. She was really helpful and left us a big box of books based around the health topic we are doing at the moment. She really fired the learners’ enthusiasm, and inspired them with the confidence to read, by bringing a broad selection of fiction and non-fiction books that could be read alone, or with children. Watch this space to see if they complete the challenge!

  2. Matt Livingstone says:

    You could go even further, Ann, to say certain groups within society are purposely excluded from the Arts.

    Interesting comments from an ABF (Swedish WEA) publiciation:

    “Culture – artistic expression – is not meant for a small elite, but for the whole of society. Culture exists to help us understand ourselves and to show what is happening to us and the communities around us. A large part of culture, or cultural offerings, are provided today on a commercial basis and do not aim to provide any depth of insight.”

    We in the UK have still a long way to go I fear.

  3. Ann Walker says:

    Many thanks to Judith and Matt for taking the time to comment.

    Kirlees Library is a great advert for the Six Book Challenge (see: and the quote from our Swedish counterparts is very pertinent.

    • Hazel Richardson says:

      I’ve used the six book challenge in Skills for Life classes several times over the years and agree that it does enthuse readers. It is very difficult to encourage reading in a vacuum and without a purpose and the challenge gives that purpose. The shorter books in the Quick Reads series are great for this. I’ve known many learners who have admitted these books were the first they had read in a very long time. I also feel that the challenge helped them to learn that they don’t have to like all books – that’s empowering, too! One of my groups is working through a set of books at present and chatting about the content makes a bit of light relief between exam practice.

      • Ann Walker says:

        Thanks for this feedback about your sessions Hazel. They sound stimulating and lively.

        Your comment about not having to like all books is interesting. Book clubs would be very dull if everyone agreed and it’s good for people to learn to express opinions.

        Thanks again.

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