World Book Day has been celebrated in the first week of March for the last 12 years, it has created tremendous momentum in schools and workplaces all over the country, and four years ago the popular Quick Reads books were published to coincide with the day.
From the beginning, unionlearn has been an enthusiastic supporter of Quick Reads and has organised (together with PR company Colman Getty) many readings with authors, who have visited union learning centres
Quick Reads authors ranging from Adele Parks to Ricky Tomlinson, Gilda O’Neill to Kate Mosse and Lola Jaye to Gervase Phinn, have wowed our learners. But it hasn’t just been one way. Gilda was inspired by learners’ enthusiasm for local East End history at the Frizlands Learning Centre, a waste disposal unit in Barking and Dagenham. And Gordon Brown himself, along with Adele Parks and Colin Jackson, welcomed learners into Downing Street last year, praising the achievement of Quick Reads.
Our efforts and that of our union learning reps have been recognised by authors, politicians, and also by Gail Rebuck, Random House CEO, and founder of World Book Day in the UK. In a recent article in The Bookseller, she wrote: "Thanks to the efforts of the 20,000 union learning reps working in over 1,000 workplace learning centres and our extensive outreach work, we have put Quick Reads into bus garages, waste disposal depots, factories, community and adult education centres, hospitals, prisons and army bases."
Not only are union learning reps organising events around the country using Quick Reads, but unionlearn will have distributed over 60,000 Quick Reads to workplaces by March this year. And this is really making a difference, with each Quick Read being read by an average of seven people. This initiative is really making waves.
But don’t just take my word for it. One tutor in the South West told us: "Over the years we discovered that the majority of learners were not reading books, because they were too long and the learners were losing interest. I then came across Quick Reads and decided to set up a lending library within our centre. We have now found that our learners are not only reading more but their grammar is getting better. These books are making a huge difference to our classes and our learners lives. We have found that our learners are a lot more confident with reading in general."
If we are to tackle the scandal of low rates of adult literacy in society and in the workplace and if we are to achieve a fairer society, where everyone can progress, then Quick Reads clearly has a vital part to play. It’s time to make everyday World Book Day.
Liz Smith, director of unionlearn