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About us

school girl reading Enid Blyton bookWhy we're passionate about children reading for pleasure

Reading for pure enjoyment enriches children’s lives beyond measure  – not only while they’re reading but throughout their lives. It’s been proven many times over that reading for pleasure is more important than wealth or social background in improving a child's future socially, emotionally, academically and vocationally.

That’s why we’re passionate about encouraging kids to read for pleasure. Our vision is of a society in which all children enjoy the fullest opportunities in life through the positive effects of choosing to read for fun.

1984: Readathon begins!

Our story began back in 1984 when Gail and Brough Girling founded Readathon. This simple but effective sponsored reading challenge encourages school children to read through choice rather than compulsion.

Children loved it, teachers, librarians and other school professionals loved it – and in the first year the children raised a whopping £130,000. That first year we decided to give the money to Mencap, and to give the money to a different charity each year.

News of Readathon spread quickly and its popularity grew throughout primary and secondary schools across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Many international and British schools throughout the world are also active in Readathon. Since 1984, children have raised an incredible £22 million through Readathon's sponsored reads!

Helping seriously ill children

Roald DahlWe soon learned that children and schools really wanted to help seriously ill children. So we adopted CLIC Sargent (or the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children as it was then) as our major charity.

Meanwhile, legendary children’s author Roald Dahl became a great advocate for Readathon and was the charity’s first chairman. Roald shared our concern that 'reading for enjoyment' was in danger of being submerged in 'reading as a life skill'. He was also passionate about helping seriously ill children. Following his death in 1990, his widow set up a foundation in his name to help children with specific medical problems that had affected his own family.

Readathon is now proud to support both CLIC Sargent and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. 

2010: We launch ReadWell and Read for Good

We became aware that children in hospital simply don’t have enough access to books and stories. Yet stories have the most incredible therapeutic powers, helping children to escape emotionally from their situation and treatments. They also help the children’s visitors, giving them the same escape as well as providing a delightful shared activity during their visit.

So in late 2010 we founded ReadWell to bring books and live storytellers to children in hospital. Readwell is partially funded through Readathon sponsorship and partly by direct donations. At the same time we brought both Readathon and Readwell under the umbrella brand Read for Good.

After all, that’s exactly what we’re about: encouraging reading for the good of all children.

Read For Good logoReadathon logoReadWell logo

About Gail and Brough Girling

For Gail Girling, developing the Readathon charity is the pinnacle of a career spent endeavouring to bring books and children together in innovative ways. After nearly 40 years, she remains absolutely committed to helping children discover the life-changing effects of reading for pleasure. Gail is also an active supporter of two grandchildren.

Brough Girling, a qualified teacher, believes passionately in the value of children’s reading as a recreational hobby, not just a skill. He has written over 30 children’s books, broadcast widely and lectured in children’s reading from Canada to Cairo. He was head of The Children’s Book Foundation in London and Founding Editor of the Young Telegraph. He is active supporter of the same two grandchildren!