The Summer Reading Challenge heads to space

Reading for pleasure is more important for children's cognitive development than their parent's level of education.

Children's reading can dip during the long summer holidays if they don't have regular access to books or benefit from encouragement to read for pleasure. This can be a problem for schools to put right in the new term.

96% of local authorities take part in the Reading Agency's annual Summer Reading Challenge, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  The scheme, founded in 1999 gets approximately 700,000 children – and their families - into libraries over the summer.  

The Challenge encourages children aged 4-11 to read six books of their choice during the summer holidays. There are collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the challenge. There are also a range of competitions open throughout the summer on the Summer Reading Challenge website.

This summer, the Reading Challenge is taking children on a journey into space. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Space Chase will take young readers on an out-of-this-world adventure with super space family, The Rockets. The Challenge also features bespoke artwork from top children's illustrator Adam Stower.

Children can read whatever they like - fiction, fact books, poetry, joke books, picture books, audio books - just as long as they are borrowed from the library.  The Challenge is open to all primary school aged children and is designed for all reading abilities.

Library staff, teachers and families are provided with a range of resources to promote the programme and support children through the challenge, including this YouTube video explaining the programme; a Facebook page; hashtags (#SummerReadingChallenge #SpaceChase #SpaceForReading); resources for librarians including activity packs; and a range of downloadable posters.
More Children Reading More Infographic

Helping children choose books they will enjoy!

Library staff are experts in helping children select book they will enjoy, and we know how important that is so children will enjoy reading and develop confidence to choose themselves in the summer and throughout the year. In response to children’s feedback about “getting stuck with boring books they weren’t enjoying” and wanting to read what other children like them had liked, we created the Book Sorter in 2012; this is an easy to use searchable database presented graphically as a machine, and books have been added to the Book Sorter 900,000 times by children themselves. The Book Sorter is unique in being crowd-sourced by children only and in categories that are meaningful to children who were closely involved in deciding what they should be called.

How to get involved

You can sign up for the Challenge at your local library throughout the summer, and there are lots more fun children’s activities on the Summer Reading Challenge website   

The Reading Agency is calling for parents and carers to make #SpaceforReading this #SummerReadingChallenge. Join the campaign by submitting a photo of your own reading den @readingagency with the #SpaceForReading via social media and be in with the chance of winning a special prize.

Anne Sarrag MBE is the founder of the Summer Reading Challenge and Head of Children’s Reading at The Reading Agency.

The Reading Agency is a national UK charity that tackles life's big challenges through the proven power of reading. The Agency works closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England.

Logo credit: © Adam Stower 2019