Encourage an adult to learn to read this World Book Day!

This World Book Day 2021 we want to encourage adults who struggle to read to come forward and ask for help.

We are asking people who know of friends and family members who cannot read, to pass on their local Read Easy group’s phone number, and encourage them to make a call that could transform their lives.

World Book Day, which takes place this year on Thursday 4th March, aims to inspire children to read for pleasure and read together with their families. But parents and grandparents who cannot read are not able to provide this support for their children and their learning, with many missing out on the important bonding time that comes with sharing a bedtime story.

There are over 2.4 million adults in England alone who either cannot read at all or can barely read. For them, everyday tasks such as booking a doctor’s appointment, reading road signs or doing the food shopping can be incredibly challenging. Life during lockdown has also been particularly hard for those with low literacy skills. Parents who cannot read have found it impossible to home-school their children, whilst many others have been unable to keep on top of the Government’s ever-changing health guidance.

Read Easy groups offer free and confidential one-to-one coaching, from trained volunteers. In normal circumstances reading pairs meets twice a week at approved local venues to work for just half an hour at a time through a structured, phonics-based reading programme, which takes up to two or more years to complete. At the moment however, due to Covid restrictions, pairs are meeting instead using WhatsApp and Facetime from the comfort of their own homes.

Those who struggle to read should not feel embarrassed about coming forward and asking for help. There are lots of different reasons why people don’t learn to read in childhood. For some it may have been a lack of support from their own family or school, for others it may have been undiagnosed dyslexia. But people should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. We are friendly, welcoming, and here to help, whatever your age.

Lyn, who is in her 70s, is one of Read Easy’s success stories. She joined the programme 18 months ago and has now obtained the skills and confidence to undertake the everyday tasks that most people take for granted, from reading cards from friends and family, to writing shopping lists, reading menus, road signs and TV listings.

She says “Reading has made my life so much better. It’s really made lockdown easier for me. Like they say, you are never too old to learn.”

Audio Book Club ideas for Read Easy groups

We have been thinking about how Audio Book Clubs could be great way of keeping in touch both during the lockdown and in the future. Potentially helping to provide supported reading activities for our Readers and supporting volunteers during social distancing and self-isolation.

Ideally, we would recommend always choosing titles that are available both as a book and an audio book, so that your book club can be accessible for everyone, including your group’s Readers. 

Your book club could simply involve listening to audio books and some discussion, or you might decide to discuss poetry, letters or plays, or compare the film of a book to the book itself.

A Read Easy group could set up a book club in a number of different ways, offering different benefits during the coronavirus lockdown, or indeed at any other time. Read on to find out more about the book club ideas your group could consider.

Coaches’ Book Club

Organised by the Coordinator or a member of the Management Team, this would be a book club for your group’s Coaches and could offer them a wonderful way to stay in touch while normal coaching sessions and Coach meetings are on hold.

Book club meetings could be held over Zoom or Skype, facilitated by the Coordinator or Management Team member running the book club. Should your group have some Coaches who don’t have access to Zoom or Skype, you could consider pairing up these Coaches to ‘meet’ separately over the telephone.

Management Team & Coordinator Book Club

As above, a book club for the Management Team members and Coordinator could be a great way for the team to stay in touch and get together socially while normal Read Easy meetings are on hold.

Read Easy Group Book Club

A book club that encompasses Coaches, Management Team members and Coordinator(s), could help to forge relationships and offer support across all those involved in volunteering with your group.

Read Easy Group Community Book Club

As a local organisation known to be passionate about reading, your group could use the lockdown period to introduce a book club for the community in your area. Using your group’s Facebook page, you could create posts and videos to promote your book club, explaining that at this time your group is looking to do something a little out of its normal remit, with the aim of bringing people in the area together through a love of books and reading.

We would suggest that you arrange a launch date of your book club, and set a regular event on your Facebook page for a book club ‘meeting’ when you could discuss up to a suggested point in the book. You could broadcast a live video on Facebook covering some of the discussion points listed below, or simply write a Facebook post with questions, which people respond to with comments.

You could also invite book club members to share their favourite book recommendations in a video or post on your Facebook page.

Suggested pointers for Book Club discussions:

  • Some people think the first sentence of a book is the most important. Would you agree or disagree with that, based on this book?
  • Who’s your favourite character and why?
  • If you could meet one of the characters right now, what would you say to them?
  • Do you find the characters convincing? Are they believable?
  • Which characters do you particularly admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?
  • Is the plot well developed? Is it believable? Do you feel manipulated along the way, or do plot events unfold naturally?
  • If you were to talk with the author, what would you want to know?
  • Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised?
  • If you were writing a sequel, what would you plan for the characters?

Free Audio Books for Coaches & Readers

The Listening Books Library

This charity provides access to a huge library of audio books. You’ll find books from favourite authors such as Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Alan Bennett, Maeve Binchy, Lee Child, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Dick Francis, Roald Dahl and David Walliams to name just a few! Their website is:


‘Audible’ is an online library. It allows you to stream some stories for free to your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, and you can open an account to access other books. No account or sign in is required for free books.

The free categories you can choose from include, amongst other things, Literary Classics and Folk Tales and all the Harry Potter books. Discover more at

Open Culture

1000 free audio books – mainly classics including fiction, non-fiction and poetry which are downloadable to a MP3 Player or a computer. In addition, there are 800 free books for IPad, Kindle and other devices. Search for a title from an alphabetical list by author’s name at

Google Play

There are free audio books available on the google play app. Download the Google Play app and search for free audio books to select from 14,000 classic books.

Enjoy and we’d love to hear about your book club. Find us on Facebook and Twitter @readeasyuk.

Edinburgh to Bristol on Two Wheels

Our Read Easy Hackney Team Leader Serena and her husband John recently completed a 858 mile cycle challenge from Edinburgh to Bristol in support of Read Easy Hackney and Samaritans. Read her story here and if it inspires you to start your own fundraising challenge, we’d love you to consider Read Easy as your chosen charity.
Top tips on creating your challenge at the end of this article!


My name is Serena Naismith and I am Team Leader of Read Easy Hackney. We support adults in this East London borough to learn to read and at present are the only Read Easy group in London, though this is set to change very soon.

As with so many, Covid-19 caught me off-guard. Its full impact only really hit me when, in consultation with Read Easy UK’s trainer, Lynne, and other Read Easy Hackney team members, we had to make the difficult but appropriate decision early in March to pull the plug on an Initial Coach Training day for 14 eager new volunteers.

As Team Leader and also Fundraiser for Read Easy Hackney, I was very aware that, despite a generous donation in March from a locally-based solicitor’s, our group’s coffers were decidedly in need of a boost! And so the idea of cycling to Bristol – and camping – as the only safe and responsible way to travel took root and, given the distance, fundraising seemed a reasonable add-on.

The result was “Edinburgh to Bristol on Two Wheels”. John’s trusty steed was “Embra”, a flighty, thorough-bred Specialised road/touring bike; mine, “Roma”, a faithful 34-year old Falcon 530, proudly bearing its original grey suede saddle. Our local bike repair shop did advise me to replace the tyres – £80 well spent as it turned out.

And so on the morning of Sunday 5th July, with a last wave from our neighbours, we set off from our home in Edinburgh to the Borders… under threatening skies. Sure enough, within 10 minutes of departing, the heavens opened and we got drenched. It was a perfect initiation, setting the bar very low as far as weather conditions might go!

Our first overnight stop was with a former colleague of mine, who spoilt us with a delicious social distanced al fresco meal. Next morning, after an appointment with a mobile bike repair shop to fix a broken spoke on Embra, we headed off through Northumbria. Day 3 saw us hugging the beautiful Northumberland coast, then on through Newcastle, and west to a delightful campsite tucked away beside the River Tyne in Wylam. From there, our route took us along Hadrian’s Wall, then south into the North Pennines and over Hartside Pass (1,900ft). Next, we rode up and down through Bronte country: Haworth and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.

From there, we wound our way to visit old friends in Pontefract. Next was Sheffield, John and my alma mater, hillier but just as wet as I had remembered! We pedalled like fury to get to Chesterfield, which included an intimidating stretch on the A61. (Wherever possible, we avoided A roads.) The sight of the impressive crooked spire soothed us. The next day saw us hit Derby (with its first-class network of cycle routes) and then onto Sutton Coldfield, where we had an unexpected but welcome rest day with friends, having been unable to visit John’s eldest cousin in Leicester due to the local lockdown.

Refreshed, we took full advantage of the extensive canal tow paths around Birmingham, which – pub quiz question spoiler! – boasts more kilometres of canal than Venice. We watched on in awe as a couple, in the narrowest of narrow boats, put all their might into operating the first of the 21 locks they were going to be passing through that day.

From Birmingham, we headed to Warwick to steal a glance at the Castle and St Mary’s Church, and thence to Leamington Spa (stopping for a drink at my nephew’s) and on to beautiful Stratford (a long-overdue first visit for both of us). Next, we tacked east to see John’s aunt in Buckinghamshire, before turning west again to head through Oxford, and into the Cotswolds, where we were hosted by Read Easy UK’s CEO, Ginny and husband, Nick, and Office Dog, Harry.

Last but not least came the wonderful descend over Cotswold’s Edge to join the Avon Cycle Route for our last 40 miles of cycling. Eight miles short of our final destination, Bristol, our youngest, Ailsa, headed out to join us. After seven months, it was an emotional reunion – a super-special moment which, even without all our adventures, would have made the whole 858 miles totally worthwhile.

The whole trip – 17 days of cycling including two ‘rest’ days – has already gone down as one of John and my most memorable holidays, and for all the right reasons! While we have previously done cycle trips of 3-4 days with our own and another family when our children were teenagers, this was by far the most ambitious in distance. There is something so liberating about your daily focus only to be to get from A to B, and knowing that your only worldly possessions are balancing on the back of a simple but sleek mechanical pack-horse!

There were so many highs, not least catching up with so many family members and friends. But for me the most magical moment was arriving at the top of Hartside Pass and, on a gloriously warm summer’s afternoon, looking down at the plain below us and its patchwork of fields, and back to the distant blue-grey of the Lakes on the skyline. It was truly mesmerising!

I must finish by saying a huge “thank you” for the wonderful support and generosity we received from so many and which boosted us throughout the ride, especially on the 2-3 really long days in the saddle. That support included John’s friend, another John in Newcastle, who saved the day by personally delivering two custom-building brackets to our campsite to keep my cantilevered pannier-rack secure, all on the basis of a photo sent by WhatsApp and a 5 minute phone conversation! And the generosity helped us raise a final total of £3,800. John and I are hugely grateful.


Thinking of starting your own fundraising challenge? Here are some top tips!

  1. Decide what your challenge will be. From running a marathon around home to a game-a-thon, there are so many things you could do right now to support a charity #neverneededmore
  2. Choose your charity! 
  3. How can people donate? This could be an online donation page – for example a Just Giving page where you direct people to donate. You can also ask people to donate in via social media. Facebook make this really easy for you. Go to post and choose ‘support non-profit’ from the options. You can then search for your charity. If registered with Facebook, it should appear in the search box – (you can find Read Easy UK there).
  4. Tell everyone! Be sure to share what you are doing with friends and family. Contact your chosen charity to see if they can help you spread the word. Also be sure to tag the charity in your posts.

Good luck! If you’re fundraising for Read Easy UK, we would love to share your story! There might even be a T-shirt in it for you.



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