Quick Reads Launched by Education Minister

Welsh Books Council

Quick Reads Launched by Education Minister - 10 February 2011
Quick Reads Launched by Education Minister

Never say never adult learners tell of their battles with words in new book.

To admit as an adult that you cannot read or write takes guts. For Joe Monks, working in the macho environment of Cardiff’s steelworks, it was a living nightmare. However, until redundancy forced his hand, he skilfully masked his problems for over 40 years, even from his own wife and mother. Joe’s journey is one of facing up to a lifetime of literacy problems and making a positive decision to do something about it.

His moving and inspirational story features alongside contributions by a number of other literacy students and celebrities who have also successfully overcome numerous personal and learning difficulties in  Worlds Beyond Words, one of the eight new Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn titles for 2011. The books were launched by Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education, at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Thursday, 10 February 10 2011. Ex- Monty Python star Terry Jones, rugby player Mefin Davies and author Gareth F Williams were also there as some of the authors of the new Quick Reads titles in 2011. 

Now in its sixth year, the Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn campaign has introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the joys of reading, by providing short, fast-paced books from best-selling writers and household names.  The aim of this joint initiative, between the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Books Council, is to encourage people to look afresh at reading through books which are entertaining, fun and short.  The titles are funded as part of the National Basic Skills Strategy.

Whilst reading books comes very naturally to a great number of people, over a third of the UK adult population admit to not having the time or inclination to read for pleasure in their busy lives.  The introduction of these eight brand new titles will provide a handy solution to the many people who may normally struggle to finish a book.                                                        

The four English titles, published by Accent Press, range in subject matter from life as one of the most decorated British athletes in  The Flying Pineapple  by Jamie Baulch to rugby legend Martyn Williams’s pick of his top ten from all the world rugby stars he’s ever played against in  Rugby Rivals – My Top 10 players.    Monty Python’s Welsh-born Terry Jones has penned  Trouble on the Heath,  a hilarious story about a man and the view he loves which is about to be blocked by an ugly building, while true stories about the power of reading is the narrative behind  Worlds Beyond Words.  With a foreword by Scott Quinnell, who talks about his own battles with reading, author Alison Stokes has gathered the experiences of Joe Monks and others like him including Lutala Kabe who escaped war-torn Congo to start a new life in Newport; Ruth Bond who despite being bi-polar is confidently looking forward to the next stage in her life, and Jill Jury whose dyslexia is no longer a barrier to her learning and career ambitions.

The personal stories of these four individuals form part of a short film which will be shown as part of the Senedd launch event. Other contributions to the book include the architect of the Senedd building, Sir Richard Rogers, who is himself dyslexic, and Swansea City defender Angel Rangel, who came to Wales unable to speak a word of English.

The four Welsh-language Stori Sydyn titles, published by Y Lolfa, include a personal account of footballer John Hartson’s personal battle with cancer and his successful football career in  Hartson  by Lynn Davies and John Hartson. The football theme continues with  Cymry Man U (The Welshmen of Man U)   by Gwyn Jenkins.  This book looks at the strong links between the famous club and Wales, including the various players from Wales who have played a part in the club’s incredible global success.

Mefin – I Gymru yn Ôl (Mefin – Back to Wales),  is the autobiography of rugby international Mefin Davies. In this title, he takes us through his childhood, the development of his professional career and how he came to play across the border. If sports are not your thing, then you may be interested in Gareth F Williams’s latest offering,  Tacsi i Hunllef (Taxi to a Nightmare),  the follow-up to his successful  Tacsi i’r Tywyllwch (Taxi to Darkness)  published as part of the Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn series in 2007.

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Skills said, "The Welsh Assembly Government is continually working to support people to gain the confidence needed to embark on the road to learning and personal development.

"The Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn initiative supports this work by promoting titles that are easy to pick up and read.  It’s great to see eight books published here in Wales and many of the contributors, such as Martyn Williams and Jamie Baulch, are fantastic role models for people of all ages.

"I’m particularly taken by a number of the true stories enclosed within one of the new titles,  Worlds Beyond Words.  These adult learners are a real inspiration to anybody facing seemingly insurmountable problems with reading and writing.

"The clear message that comes through in this book is that  "It’s never too late",  and this certainly rings true as we can see from the achievements of those who join us here today."

In the five years since the campaign was first launched, over 3 million copies of the Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn books have been sold throughout the UK. Recent research by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education amongst 50,000 new readers shows that 98% of people who read Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn had seen a positive impact on their lives, with 80% of readers going on to read other books.

Delyth Humphreys, the Welsh Books Council’s World Book Day coordinator, added,  "The Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn campaign is gaining momentum all the time and encouraging thousands of people across Wales to give reading a go, many of whom may never have read a book before. This is certainly true for some of the first-time authors who contributed to one of the titles in the 2011 campaign –  World Beyond Words  – who say that Quick Reads/Stori Sydyn books helped them to gain the confidence to start reading and to enjoy it.

"The eight Wales-specific titles this year, four in English and four in Welsh, offer a fascinating mix of subject matters, both real-life and fiction, which I’m sure will appeal to people of all ages and interests."

Quick Reads Launched by Education Minister

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