Over 800 Westminster readers are celebrating after successfully taking part in a reading challenge aimed at encouraging people to get into reading and improving reading skills of people with English as a second language.
At a special event at Church Street Library on Tuesday 29 September, Westminster participants of the Reading Ahead Challenge, led by The Reading Agency, came together to celebrate their record breaking success.
Over six months, 800 readers challenged themselves to read six books and rate and review them in their reading diaries. Westminster Libraries gained a gold award for achieving 218 completers, one of only two public library services UK-wide to achieve this. They also won a prize draw which enabled them to have author Rachel Bladon attend a special event at the library to celebrate the end of the challenge.
Run through local libraries and adult learning organisations, Reading Ahead challenges participants who struggle with reading or have English as a second language, to pick six reads of their choice – including newspapers and magazines and books.
Rachel Bladon has worked in English Language Teaching (ELT) publishing for more than twenty years and has written more than thirty ELT readers, often adapting classics to help readers improve their English. Rachel is the author of the book “England” which was one of the books the group read and discussed as part of the challenge. The book was enlightening to readers of the group with an understanding of the British History and way of life, and jargon free terminology. Participants also read Rachel’s adapted version of “Persuasion” as part of the challenge.
Aklima, who does not have English as her first language, was one of the members who took part. She said: “This is my third year on the challenge and the best thing about it for me it is that I am enjoying reading for pleasure again. Reading with the group has really improved my skills.”
Councillor Steve Summers, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Customer Services said: “This exciting challenge follows a wonderful year of reading and I am glad the Reading Ahead challenge has helped participants rediscover the joys of a good book regardless of their first language."
“Reading is a vital skill and I want to congratulate everyone who took part.”
Westminster libraries run regular free adult and teen and children reading groups throughout the year for all abilities, including classes for readers with English as a second language and English discussion groups.