Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Summer Reading Challenge

  • Date: 1 August 2012
  • Area: South West
child reading

Summer Reading Challenge. Credit: Arts Council England

As part of the London 2012 Festival, libraries throughout the south west are working with Arts Council England and The Reading Agency to encourage children to read over the summer holidays.

80,000 children across the region are expected to take part in The Summer Reading Challenge which is coordinated by the Reading Agency, one of the Arts Council's National Portfolio Organisations and funded by each of the local public library services

Children aged 4 to 11 are challenged to read six books over the course of the summer holiday. Reading efforts will be rewarded with Olympic style bronze, silver and gold medals, and a range of activities will encourage children to visit libraries.

Highlights include a visit to Bath Central Library from Olympic gold medal winner Amy Williams. Meanwhile in Plymouth, children are being encouraged to enjoy the sounds of Ghananian drumming in workshops taking place as part of Plymouth's link with Ghana.

The annual Summer Reading Challenge now accounts for 20% of all books issued to children annually in UK libraries.

Writers and illustrators of children's books will visit libraries, including:

  • Fossil hunter, dinosaur enthusiast, inventor and author of the Professor P series of books, Peter J Davidson will visit Blandford, Gillingham and Corfe Mullen, Dorset
  • Babette Cole who wrote and illustrated the Princess Smartypants books and illustrated Michael Rosen's Even My Ears Are Smiling will talk at Crediton library
  • Chris Fisher - Illustrator of Kaye Umansky's A Chair for Baby Bear and Anthony Masters' Doughnut Danger Bristol - will lead drawing workshops in Bristol

There will be storytelling activities across the south west, including:

  • An Olympic themed stories session for families lead by actress and storyteller Michele O'Brien in Bournemouth
  • A storytelling extravaganza with Neil Griffiths at North Swindon Library
  • "Agent Green" Dragon Storyteller weaves a magical tale-suitable for children and families at libraries in Gloucestershire

Craft activities linked to the Challenge have been organised to encourage children into libraries. These include:

  • the creation of an Olympic themed mural in Newton Abbot
  • a pop up Olympic stadium in Appledore
  • animals from round the world in Swindon
  • Making and performing with shadow puppets in South Gloucestershire  

Arts Council England's Director for the south west, Phil Gibby said:
"Reading fuels children's curiosity, inspires their imagination and is an important life skill. The Summer Reading Challenge is a creative and successful way to engage children and improve their reading skills. We're excited to see such a fantastic range of activities taking place throughout the south west and I look forward to hearing about the experiences of some of the children taking part".

The Summer Reading Challenge focuses on reading for pleasure. The combination of fun, freedom, and creativity has a significant impact on children's reading levels, range, motivation and confidence. Taking part helps prevent the 'summer reading dip' in achievement when children without reading opportunities at home over the long summer break from school traditionally lose ground in their reading

With the international inspiration of London2012, a number of library services have made links abroad including Swindon with Gunjar, the Gambia, Bournemouth with Buncrana, Ireland and Plymouth with Ghana. Chippenham library will be linking up with a library in Seattle to share photos and information about each town and to exchange a favourite selection of books.

Events are taking place at libraries across the south west and around the country. Further information about local events is available from local libraries.