Quick Reads is a UK-based nonprofit that has a simple – and wonderful – goal. To get people reading. Or as they say, To start a new chapter. Because reading is about more than just opening up a book and going through the words found there. Reading is about opening up a book and finding a whole new world around you. A new chapter begins not only on the page but also in your life: to paraphrase Cyril Connelly, books are an escape not from life, but a dive right down into it. To take that dive, you have to be comfortable with swimming. That is where Quick Reads books come in.
The barrier that too many adults have to discovering the new worlds waiting in books is that they cannot read with any degree of ease or comfort. In the U.K., one is six adults finds reading difficult: these adults will not pick up a book for pleasure or escape or edification because it is just too intimidating. In the United States, a recent Pew Study showed that the “typical American adult” read or listened to five books in the last year. Would more adults read more if reading were easier for them?
Founded on World Book Day in 2006, Quick Reads reaches out to adults with little reading ability by offering books written just for them by bestselling authors. The Quick Reads books are rich with characters, action, and emotion – they are page-turners! – but they are also easy to read, with simple sentences and vocabulary. The idea is to hook the readers on the adrenaline rush of sitting down with a book and discovering a whole new world, and then encouraging readers to meet their new addiction by supplying, at a very low cost (Quick Reads books are priced to sell), more and more books of action, adventure, and engagement.
As readers grow more comfortable with the habits of reading, and their skills improve, I hope they will move on to increasingly complex and challenging literature – thereby becoming committed, for good and forever, to reading. As I’ve always said, “great good comes from reading great books” and reading great books starts with just plain reading. The delightful video put together by Quick Reads has British celebrities offering their own take on the joys of reading. My favorite line is from the musician and TV star Mylene Klass: “It’s like getting a key and unlocking a whole new world…a book can take you anywhere.”
I’ve read a number of the many books offered by Quick Reads, including Four Warned by Jeffrey Archer, The Escape by Lynda LaPlante, and Hidden by Barbara Taylor Bradford. The books are easy to read and to follow but they are also quite fun and very engaging. Hook a reader, then point him or her to the closest library, and let the adventure begin. This year World Book Day occurs on March 6 – why not gift a friend (or two or three) with the key to a new world?