A unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK, the Summer Reading Challenge got a record 810,000 children reading in the summer holidays in 2013. With the support of local MPs, libraries, schools and a host of well-known children’s authors including Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo, even more children aged 4-11 will be encouraged to join the library and complete the challenge this year.
Children will also be encouraged to share their love of reading by recommending a book to friends, family and carers with a campaign called ‘pass-it-on’ this year. The campaign is intended to inspire them to share their reading choices. It is endorsed by the new National Curriculum, which suggests that pupils should be "recommending books that they have read to their peers, giving reasons for their choices.”
I hope parents, grandparents and carers in Lewisham, Deptford will take their children to the library to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge. It’s free, inclusive and makes reading fun - a vital ingredient in building literacy. Last year 3832 children in London Borough of Lewisham took part in the Challenge. I hope we can increase that number this year and show local libraries what a valuable asset they are to us and our community.
Each year the Challenge uses a new theme to inject fun and creativity into reading. The 2014 theme is “Mythical Maze”, illustrated by award winning Sarah McIntrye. Children sign up at the library and receive a mythical maze poster. As they borrow and read library books over the summer, children collect stickers of mythical creatures to complete their poster and discover facts about the creatures as they go. It’s a highlight of the holidays for thousands of children and families.
The Reading Agency is also working with SOLUS UK Ltd to add some “digital magic” to the 2014 Challenge - for the first time, librarians and families will be able to download a free mobile App onto their devices which will recognize key Mythical Maze illustrations and trigger audio visual content including videos, games and messages from the mythical creatures.
The Summer Reading Challenge reaches children and young people of all ages. For pre-schoolers there is a mini-challenge and for young people (aged 13 to 24) there is the opportunity to volunteer and support younger children taking part. Volunteering provides a quality workplace experience for young people in libraries, inspires them to think about future careers and increases their employability as they gain useful life skills and confidence. This year it is expected around 8,000 young people will volunteer.