We announced our final 25th Anniversary gift, of £1m to The Reading Agency, in July 2013. The Reading Agency works to inspire people to read more. It believes that confident and skilled readers have greater aspirations and opportunities, and that reading brings enjoyment and increases wellbeing.
Our gift was to expand and develop The Reading Agency’s digital capacity and its Reading Activists programme, which enables young people to volunteer through their local libraries to encourage other young people to read more.
The Reading Agency is in the process of developing a new digital strategy and improving the content and capacity of its websites to engage with readers for its Summer Reading and Six Book Challenges. In partnership with libraries, the Summer Reading Challenge helps to motivate primary-school-age children to read for pleasure during the summer, helping to prevent the summer dip in literacy skills noted by teachers.
The Six Book Challenge aims to build the reading confidence and motivation of adults who struggle with reading. The Reading Activists programme uses reading and libraries as a springboard for community activism. The Reading Agency supports young people (aged 11–24) from deprived communities to set up reading and writing groups. The aim is to build an enjoyment of reading among people of all ages, through organising creative events and participating in social action. Through volunteering, the Activists develop their own skills, confidence and employability. In 2013/14, our funding enabled The Reading Agency to research and design a new Reading Activists Challenge and specific website to increase its engagement with young people.