About us

About 2021-07-28T14:07:39+00:00

“I think Reading Force is a great idea – a brilliant way of uniting families and sharing the joys of reading.”
Dame Jacqueline Wilson, award-winning author and former Children’s Laureate

At Reading Force, we are passionate about using books to bring Forces children and families closer together. Our shared reading initiative encourages families to read, talk, and scrapbook about a book, improving communication and enriching relationships with books and each other – one page at a time.

As an Army wife for nearly thirty years, and a mother of four children, I know all about the ups and downs of Forces life and the impact it can have on a Forces family. During training, active deployment, or when yet another move beckons – good communication is vital.

Over the years, when my husband was away, we would communicate through books. I would send him things I had read, he’d read them, and then we would talk on the phone about our reactions. And as the children got older we involved them too. Some good conversations resulted. Reading together created common ground and the opportunity to connect, and provided a welcome distraction from the stresses and strains of so many long separations.

In 2010 I had the idea of encouraging other Forces families to share books and talk about them, and to offer them special scrapbooks to fill up. This became Reading Force. Started in Aldershot in 2011, the scheme has grown in popularity ever since. With the help of our generous funders and supporters we can now offer Reading Force to all British Armed Forces, Reserves, Cadets and ex-Forces children, families and friends, nationwide.

We hope you will join in Reading Force and benefit the way we have – it is free to take part and a fun activity that all the family will enjoy, whether you are at home together or separated.

Best wishes

“Sharing books is one of the most wonderful experiences that a family can have…

…The scrapbooks offer a fantastic opportunity to explore books and share thoughts on them, however far away from each other the family group may be. I think this is a brilliant way of bringing together Forces families through the shared joy of reading books and I am pleased to be able to add my support to it.”
Anthony Browne, former Children’s Laureate

General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC, Chief of the Defence Staff, supports Reading Force

“Reading Force is an excellent scheme and I am very happy to lend my support.

The idea behind Reading Force is simple. Service families under pressure often find it difficult to communicate. It is often challenging to explain what you are up to, when you are deployed in demanding circumstances, several thousand miles from home. And it is equally difficult to understand the perspective of those at home, whose life might seem mundane, but who have to shoulder the burden of living alone and the uncertainty of not knowing what deployment involves.

No amount of telephone calls can ever close that gap, so making the connection through informal reading groups, sharing feedback through the vehicle of a Reading Force scrapbook and using it as a basis for communication is a tremendous idea. I wish it had been around to support the many deployments my family has experienced in my career. I wholeheartedly commend the idea to you.”

General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC, Chief of the Defence Staff, Berkshire

Meet the Reading Force team

Prof. Alison Baverstock
Prof. Alison BaverstockFounder, Director & Chair of Trustees
A former publisher with strong interests in widening participation and reader development, Alison teaches MA Publishing at Kingston University and the author of many titles on the book business including ‘Is there a book in you?’ and ‘The Naked Author’.

Favourite children’s books: ‘A Little Princess’ (the first book to make her cry), ‘Paddington’, ‘The Railway Children’ and ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ stories.

Elaine Boorman
Elaine BoormanMarketing and Finance
Elaine is an experienced strategic marketer with extensive experience of working with publishers and not-for-profit causes, with a high level of operational, financial and marketing expertise – all now being utilised to help Reading Force develop and grow.

Favourite children’s books: Heidi, AA Milne’s poems ‘When we were very young’, and ‘The Jungle Book’ (and the original film was her first visit to the cinema!)

Hattie Gordon
Hattie GordonCommunications & Liaison
Hattie’s background is in community arts. A published author, she has written for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, and Embroidery. Hattie liaises with Reading Force supporters, families, groups and schools, and manages press and publisher relationships.

Favourite children’s books: ‘Captain Pugwash’ (she wanted to be Tom the Cabin Boy), ‘Bog Baby’, ‘A Monster Calls’, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.

Fiona Maxwell
Fiona MaxwellReading Force Ambassador-Scotland
During her 34 years as an Army wife, Fiona has been a Garrison Librarian, instructor at an Army Education Centre, and Patient Co-ordinator in a Glasgow Hospice. Fiona’s role is sponsored by Annington Ltd, and she visits schools and welfare settings in Scotland.

Favourite children’s books: ‘Peepo and Each Pear Plum’, Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ books (though her class teacher wouldn’t let the books in the classroom!).

Judith Burke
Judith BurkeReading Force Book Club Ambassador
Judith is an army wife of 29 years and an army mum. She is delighted at this change of career after many years as a tax advisor. Judith supports our Book Club Coordinators, having enjoyed being a member of a Book Club whilst posted to South Korea.

Favourite children’s books: ‘Little House On The Prairie’ (and would never have dreamt that years later she would live in the Mid West!), ‘The Borrowers’, ‘Winnie The Pooh’.

Paula Ashe
Paula AsheReading Force Ambassador – Northern Ireland
Paula is a Community development Worker for Army Welfare Service, supporting serving military families for the past 12 years. In her Reading Force role Paula supports veterans and their families living in Northern Ireland.

Favourite children’s books: Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ and ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ (still a firm favourite with her own children).

Meet our patrons

To mark our tenth anniversary we are thrilled to announce that we have appointed three  Reading Force patrons:

Sir Michael Morpurgo
Sir Michael MorpurgoAuthor of international renown, and founder of the Children’s Laureate Scheme
Michael Morpurgo, began writing stories in the early ’70s, in response to the children in his class at the primary school where he taught in Kent. One of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers, Michael was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2003, a post he helped to set up with Ted Hughes in 1999…

Please click on the image to find out more about Sir Michael Morpurgo.

Meg Rosoff
Meg RosoffBestselling author
Meg launched Reading Force at Wavell School in 2011 and we were delighted to welcome her back for our tenth anniversary…

Please click on the image to find out more about Meg Rosoff.

Mrs Amanda Rowley
Mrs Amanda RowleyHeadteacher, The Wavell School, Aldershot
I joined the Wavell School in January 2004 as sole deputy head, and became headteacher a year later, at Easter 2005. On taking up the post, I was invited to sit on the Hampshire Admissions Forum to champion services children, and helped instigate their place in their In-Year Fair Access protocol…

Please click on the image to find out more about Mrs Amanda Rowley.

Meet the Reading Force Trustees

David Blunkett, Lord Blunkett of Brightside and Hillsborough
David Blunkett, Lord Blunkett of Brightside and HillsboroughTrustee
Lord David Blunkett was awarded a peerage in the dissolution Honours List in 2015. David was MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 1987-2015, and a member of Tony Blair’s Cabinet for eight years from 1997. He is currently a Professor at the University of Sheffield, Chair of the Board of the University of Law, Chair of the Heathrow Implementation Steering Group and involved in a range of voluntary and charitable organisations locally and nationally. He is an avid supporter of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, and enjoys the countryside, reading and good food.
Nicholas Jones
Nicholas JonesTrustee
Founder & Director of Strathmore Publishing, Nicholas Jones grew up with teacher parents, surrounded by books, so publishing was a natural career after science at university. As Publisher for Thames Television he created both printed and audio tie-ins for fondly remembered series like Wind in the Willows, Rainbow and Button Moon. Since 1995, his own company Strathmore has recorded more than a thousand audiobooks ranging from Michael Palin’s Diaries to Horrid Henry.
Gisela Stuart, Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston
Gisela Stuart, Baroness Stuart of EdgbastonTrustee
Gisela served a booksellers apprenticeship in Germany, was the Deputy Director of the London Book Fair, and translated books when her children were small. For 20 years she represented Birmingham Edgbaston in the Commons, and served as a health minister in the first Blair government. Gisela is a life peer. She now Chairs the Board of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the FCDO and serves as the lead NED on the Cabinet Office Departmental Board.
Lindsey Taylor
Lindsey TaylorTrustee
Lindsey has been a Trustee of Reading Force since 2014. She has spent the majority of her career in Human Resources primarily in the private sector and until recently in the public sector. She was a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service and a Naval wife for almost 10 years, and an Army wife for almost thirty years. Lindsey has two grown up daughters and an extended family that stretches as far as New Zealand. She lives with her husband and dogs in a small village in Somerset.
Lesley Titcomb CBE
Lesley Titcomb CBETrustee
Lesley is a Non-Executive Director of the National Bank of Kuwait International plc and of Legal & General Financial Advice and a trustee at StepChange, the debt advice charity. She is a Chartered Accountant and from 2015 to 2019 she was Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator. She was awarded a CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to pensions regulation. Her brothers were submariners in the Royal Navy, so she has some understanding of the challenges faced by service families.
Jennifer Titterton
Jennifer TittertonTrustee
Having spent her entire career in education, Jennifer remains committed to encouraging young people and their families across the entire age range. She was involved mainly with primary education, and felt the early years immensely important in creating confidence and developing skills. Jennifer has also worked as a volunteer with the Youth Offending Team and with young offenders in prison, seeking to help develop a range of literacy skills. It has been a matter of great importance to foster self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. She is a patron of her local theatre and volunteers there regularly.
Andrew Lloyd
Andrew LloydTrustee
Andrew Lloyd was Chief Executive of Rushmoor Borough Council, within which sits Aldershot, home of the British Army and where Reading Force began. Andrew was an early supporter of the project and has closely involved ever since. He is now Chair of Surrey Health NHS Group.
Could this be you?
Could this be you?We're recruiting trustees
We are committed to resourcing Reading Force with a group of effective and committed trustees, and so ensuring that both the full and diverse range of our beneficiaries and supporters is represented and we can be effective in representing their needs. If you would like to be considered as a trustee, and have skills and interests to balance those of our existing board, please contact alison@readingforce.org.uk. Our board of trustees meets three times a year. A full range of our policies regarding safeguarding, risk prevention and conflict of interest is available on request.

Soldiering On Awards Finalist 2019

We’re very proud that Reading Force has been chosen as a finalist in the ‘Family Values’ category of Soldiering On Awards 2019. We are very grateful to our sponsor, Annington Ltd, for nominating us. The Soldiering On Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country, and the diverse people and groups who work together in support of the Armed Forces Community.

Find out more

“As HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire I am delighted to support the charity Reading Force and the amazing work it does on behalf of our Service families. Hampshire has one of the biggest concentrations of Service families in the UK and I understand the importance of bringing forces children and families closer together especially when one of the family is away on active service. Reading Force helps hugely with this and I commend their website to you. It is very easy to navigate around and has some terrific content.”

Nigel Atkinson, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire