About us

About 2020-03-02T12:55:02+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

Dr Alison Baverstock
Dr 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 & Development
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!).

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
Reading Force