Bestselling authors Jenny Eclair, Kit de Waal, Sally Gardner and Bali Rai have become ambassadors for the national audiobook charity Listening Books.

Listening Books provides an audiobook library service to over 60,000 members for whom reading or holding a book is impacted by print impairments such as an illness, disability, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition. (1) The four authors will help to promote the work of the charity and the importance of audiobooks as an accessible way for everyone to enjoy reading.

Jenny Eclair is a comedian, actor, and the author of 4 novels. Her fifth book, Inheritance, is released August 1st 2019. She said: “I’m really pleased to be involved with Listening Books. I think providing audiobooks for those who have a problem reading for whatever reason is an invaluable and life enhancing service. Everyone should have access to stories, we all need to escape from reality now and then, and if your everyday reality is tough then it’s even more vital.”

Kit de Waal is the award-winning author of three books, including My Name is Leon. She is also the editor of Common People, an anthology of working class authors. She said: “I am a devotee of audiobooks. They reach you in a different way – not better, just different and for anyone who struggles with reading or holding a book, they are brilliant. Plus they are the only books you can read with your eyes closed.”

Sally Gardner is a children’s author who won the Costa Children’s Book prize and Carnegie Medal in 2013 with her novel, Maggot Moon. She said: “Audio for me is completely essential. I have done nearly all my learning through my ears and I want to spread the message of the marvels of listening to more and more young people. We are story hungry animals and audio feeds that beast very well.”

Bali Rai is the author of over 35 children’s and young adult books including the GCSE set-text Rani & Sukh. He said: “I was absolutely honoured to be asked to become an ambassador for Listening Books. I think it’s vital that all people in the UK, regardless of ability, have access to literature, and that’s why this project matters so much, and why I’m very proud to be supporting this project.”

Founded in 1959 by Norma Skemp (2), the charity is also marking its 60th anniversary with their 60 for 60 campaign (3), adding an audiobook a day to their library for 60 days, many of which have been recommended by their members. Listening Books member Andrew Bell said: “I have loved the 60 books for the 60th anniversary, especially Sleep by C. L. Taylor. Thanks to Listening Books, just because I may not be able to grip a book doesn’t stop me from being gripped by thrilling stories such as this. Being able to listen to books has made a real difference to managing my condition. Here’s to Listening Books’ next sixty years!”

William Dee, CEO of Listening Books, said: “We are delighted that Jenny, Kit, Bali and Sally are becoming ambassadors for Listening Books to help support us in promoting our audiobook library service. We know that they are all big fans of audiobooks themselves, and they will be invaluable in reaching more people who could benefit from the format but may not have considered listening to books before.”

Listening Books is a national UK charity providing an online and postal audiobook library service for over 60,000 members who find that reading or holding a book is impacted by an illness, disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition. Founded in 1959, we have championed audiobook technology, leading the voluntary sector in negotiating formal contracts with commercial publishers to provide audiobooks for print impairments. Find out more and on: Facebook and Twitter

The charity is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It was founded in 1959 by Norma Skemp after a car accident caused her to virtually lose her sight. She recognised a gap in provision for people with disabilities when she applied to another charity for help and was told they were unable to offer her anything as she could still “see something”. Since then, the charity now has 68,100 members with over 230 different print impairments. Listening Books are always expanding the library, and have added over 450 audiobooks in the last 6 months alone.

See the #60for60 campaign on our Twitter and a full list of the audiobooks added on our library page.