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The Summer Reading Challenge More

The Summer Reading Challenge

Libraries are great places for children to discover reading for pleasure and there is no better time to do this than during the long summer holidays. The Summer Reading Challenge is designed for children between the ages of 4 and 11. It is completely free and last year more than 800,000 children took part. Every year the Challenge has a new theme and this year we’re delighted to be working with The Roald Dahl Literary Estate on the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s Challenge is called The Big Friendly Read, inspired by Roald Dahl’s life and books and with beautiful posters and stickers to collect, illustrated by Quentin Blake.

How does the Summer Reading Challenge work?

  1. Children sign up at their local library and receive a collector folder for The Big Friendly Read to get them started
  2. Children read six library books of their own choice during the summer, collecting incentives along the way – all FREE!
  3. At bigfriendlyread.org.uk children can share book recommendations using the Book Sorter. Download The Big Friendly Read app for more book related fun (forthcoming)
  4. Children who complete the Challenge get a certificate and/or a medal

How do schools benefit?

The Challenge is run in public libraries, in the summer holidays, and is free for children to take part. By getting your pupils involved in the Summer Reading Challenge, your school can:

  • Enhance and support the schools reading initiatives and involve parents and the wider community.
  • Continue to support pupils’ learning during the holidays in a fun, creative and child-directed way.
  • Help to prevent the trend for children’s reading skills to dip over the holidays.
  • Encourage pupils and families to join their library, to browse, choose and borrow books for free and to enjoy a free, safe, community learning space.
  • Make great links with your local library staff who can support you in your work with families and reading.
  • Ensure your pupils return in the autumn term ready for a great start to the new academic year.
  • Provide further opportunities in the holidays for activities that link to the reading, comprehension and spoken language recommendations in the national curricula in England, Scotland and Wales and to the recommendations in the Department for Education’s report Reading; the next steps, (March 2015, DfE)
  • Provide evidence to OFSTED of your school’s involvement in community initiatives and social and cultural activities
  • Support public libraries

How do schools get their pupils involved?

You can:

  • Invite your local library staff into school in the summer term to talk about the Summer Reading Challenge and what is going on at your local library in the holidays. Invite them to assemblies, new -intake days, the summer fete, sports day, open days or to talk to individual classes.

  • Show your pupils and families the Summer Reading Challenge video (available on this website from May).

  • Inspire your pupils to participate by exploring this website, playing the games, watching the videos and downloading the app, all of which can be used both in the classroom, at home and in the library. (The app is available from May)

  • Take part in the competitions on the website as a class or as a school. Use the Book Sorter in class and in library lessons. Encourage your pupils to share the site with their families and to create a profile at home, perhaps as a homework activity

  • Plan lessons and activities that link to the Challenge theme (this year, it is The Big Friendly Read, inspired by Roald Dahl). Your library staff can provide you with the schools Summer Reading Challenge 2016 pack which contains a wealth of activities or it can be downloaded from TES resources.

  • Inform parents and encourage families to take part by talking about it in your letters home, providing a link on your school website and telling parents about it at parents’ evenings, sports days and induction days for pupils starting school in September. Your local library may provide you with invitations for pupils to take home in their book bags and posters to display in school.

  • Organise a trip to the library with pupils and parents to join and to sign up for The Summer Reading Challenge.

  • Celebrate the achievements of pupils who participate in the Challenge in September with a celebration assembly attended by your local library staff or by taking photos of Challenge completers with their certificates and medals for your school newsletter. Challenge your school to beat last year’s total number of Challenge completers. Many library authorities offer trophies and prizes for the schools with the highest participation numbers.

  • Use the data on your pupils’ participation, year on year, as evidence of your school’s reading for pleasure initiatives and of your school’s engagement with the local community and pupils’ social and cultural development.

  • Inspire your pupils by getting staff to also join the library and read six library books themselves over the holidays. It’s a great way to get to know the local library staff and for teachers to develop their knowledge of children’s literature. School staff might even volunteer to help run the Challenge.

It’s free, local and inclusive

  • The Summer Reading Challenge is inclusive of all children and families and all stages of reading development. Children choose whatever they want to borrow. There are no levels.
  • Children read six or more books of their choice: fiction, non-fiction, joke books, picture books; any books they like as long as they are borrowed from the library. They talk about them in the library with a member of staff or young volunteer and receive stickers along the way and a medal and/or certificate when they complete the Challenge.
  • There is also a mini-challenge for pre-school children so that the whole family can take part.
  • Family information leaflets are available in a range of community languages and many items are available in large print. Ask your local library staff.
  • Libraries stock accessible texts, audio books, dual – language books, picture books and graphic novels.
  • Volunteering

    Librarians and teachers in secondary schools play an important role in encouraging pupils to volunteer as Reading Hackers to help library staff run the Challenge in public libraries over the summer.


    We also co-ordinate a national network of book groups for children called Chatterbooks. Visit www.chatterbooks.org.uk for more information and free resources to set up a book group in your school.