I not only love writing, I love reading. I can’t imagine my life without being able to tuck into a great story. I’m an active library user, love spending hours in book shops and I’ve already purchased four books this week. That’s not unusual and I’m unapologetic about it. I see books as an investment because when you are reading you are learning.
It wasn’t always like this for me though. I was very late to reading. I went to an inner-city comprehensive school – educated in an era where spelling and grammar were deemed unimportant. Not many of my fellow classmates were heading home to bury themselves in a book.
But I was fortunate. My mum wouldn’t give up on getting me interested. She must have read me every Enid Blyton book ever written and invested thousands of hours helping me with sentence structure in my essays.
During English lessons at senior school, I was often asked to read aloud to class. A friend would whisper in my ear the words I got stuck on (there were lots).
And, probably because I’ve always had a huge imagination and was enthusiastic about anything creative, my English and Arts teachers always gave willingly of their time to help and encourage me.
Not everyone is so lucky.
Did you know we live in a society where one in five people will never read a blockbuster book because they can’t? And that the average reading age of our population is just nine years?
To get more people into reading, a brilliant scheme was launched in 2006 called ‘quick reads’. Hundreds of best-selling authors got involved, writing very short and easy to read stories, to encourage adults who find reading difficult. The scheme provided an unlock for millions or at least it did.
Having published more than 100 titles, loaned 5 million times through libraries and distributed 4.8 million books – at the end of the year, this scheme is being axed because it can’t find a corporate sponsor. I find that unbelievable.
We’re in the world of business. We need customers and colleagues to be able to read – not just to enjoy great stories but to learn and engage with new ideas and perspectives.
I believe business can be a force for good. Many are looking for ways to make a positive difference, give back and leave a lasting legacy. What better sponsorship deal could there be than this for the right business? And since, as business professionals, we can each influence the decisions made by our businesses, I’m reaching out to ask you to please share the ‘quick reads’ opportunity with your corporate sponsorship decision makers.
I often dive into a quick read myself on the train – they are great value and help me relax after a busy day. This week I read fabulous author, Vaseem Khan, and his story ‘Inspector Chopra & the million dollar motor car’. The inscription inside reads: “To all those who have always found reading a challenge… Don’t give up. Never give up, because we will never give up writing stories for you to read.” Let’s hope there’s a business out there that can prevent that inspirational inscription from becoming tragic fiction.
Quick reads has attracted both writers and readers – what it needs to attract now is a corporate sponsor. And with your help, perhaps we can do our bit to find ‘quick reads’ the happy ending it deserves.
Thanks for reading.
Alex was employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades. She left to establish not A Duff word in March 2017. She now helps businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.