Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Six Book Challenge

My completion certificate
This year, I completed the Six Book Challenge (6BC) for the first time. I am already a regular reader, so why did I take part?

The 6BC is a well-established project, supported by the
Reading Agency. It promotes reading for pleasure amongst adults, particularly those who may have low reading levels. The 6BC is offered in various types of establishments, including colleges, and generally works pretty well. It involves reading 6 books and writing a short review of each one in a reading diary. Small rewards are encouraged to emphasise the fun elements of reading.

I attempted the 6BC last year, having signed up in the college in which I work. This was the first time we had offered the scheme and I think we learned a lot. We were embedded into the scheme of work for foundation learners, but they didn’t manage to progress through 6 books within the allotted timeframe. As much as I wanted the project to succeed, even I failed to complete 6 books. There was a lack of ownership and none of us really had the time to dedicate to it. The momentum ran out pretty soon, unfortunately. So much so that this year, the library hasn’t offered the 6BC at all.

My reading diary

This year, I signed up for the scheme at another college. This is the third year this college library has offered the 6BC, meaning an element of good practice is already in place. This year, the library is hopeful of securing a bronze award from the Reading Agency to mark 50 completions. The project is embedded into the Childcare department’s scheme of work; they use the 6BC to encourage Childcare learners to read at least 6 children’s books. It is an established pattern and works well. The library offers choccy treats at various stages of the scheme, which is nice. The lure of rewards helps make the library a more attractive place to people who may otherwise feel uncomfortable there. Many places purchase incentives from the Reading Agency to use as rewards, such as 6BC pens, wristbands, mugs etc. I like this idea and feel they add an extra depth to the rewards; let’s be honest – everyone loves a free pen!
This year, as my certificate proves, I completed 6 books. Hurrah! On a personal note, I focussed on reading books from the Quick Reads series, and used the opportunity to explore the work of authors I am unfamiliar with. What a great way to try out new authors! I took photos of each book and posted my progress on Twitter, using the hashtag #sixbookchallenge. I took the opportunity to promote not only the Challenge but also the library stock, as every book I read came from the college library. The college and the Reading Agency replied and retweeted my comments, as did other places running the Challenge. It was fun sharing my reading experience in this way, so much so that it encouraged me to register with the 6BC website. This allows participants to submit their reviews online and read reviews by other participants. In the reading diary are secret codes, which unlock videos on the website. I found this the most exciting part of the website, but unfortunately the codes wouldn’t actually work online for me. *Disappointing*

Being a Challenge participant created a shared avenue with learners. It gave me something to chat to them about. Not just asking how they were progressing with it, but sharing my experience too. If a learner was struggling, they cheered up a little once they heard I’d struggled the first time. I abandoned one book too – it was just too scary for me – and this always raised an eyebrow from them. The shock of a librarian giving up on a book!

I also hoped that by observing how the 6BC was successfully implemented in one college, I would be able to reproduce this good practice in the college which had previously struggled with it. Sharing good practice is the main advantage of working in two separate college libraries. I shared what I could, but handed in my resignation and will not be there to help administer the Challenge next year. Hopefully someone else will be able to run with it. I would dearly love for that library to make a success of the 6BC and celebrate it.

I actually really enjoyed taking part in the 6BC, especially the online participation. It was nice jotting down my thoughts without any pressure about how they were constructed, or how ‘high-brow’ my comments were. If the scheme is promoted well, and curriculum areas engage, it can really raise the profile of the library and be something the college can celebrate. A fair amount of input is required to initially set up and offer the 6BC, but this should decrease once it is well established. In my opinion – as a participant and as a librarian - it seems well worth the effort!

The six books I read for the 6BC

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