Welcome to the Summer Reading Challenge’s digital Pre-School Zone. This page is designed to support families and children with pre-school reading through the annual Summer Reading Challenge run by national charity The Reading Agency.
On this page, you can find specific information for pre-school children and links to useful family resources around reading with children in the early years. Scroll down for information about the importance of starting a reading habit in the early years, and details of how to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.
The importance of reading together
It’s never too early to start reading with your child. Reading at home has huge benefits to children’s language and social development with impacts lasting far beyond the early years.
Research shows that reading aloud to 0-8-year-olds:
● increases their cognitive and language development
● improves their vocabulary development and pre-reading skills
● supports brain development, concentration and executive function
Reading together not only supports development of skills but is also vital in supporting children’s social-emotional growth and family bonding. Listening to stories read by a family member helps children develop emotionally by connecting to the experiences of characters in books and even to you as a reader through your tone of voice and facial expressions.
Start an early reading habit through the Summer Reading Challenge
The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to develop the habit of reading for pleasure. Children set themselves a reading goal, and collect special rewards and incentives along the way. Scroll down to find out how to take part! You can also find more information on our Home Zone.
The Challenge is open to families with children of all ages, including those in the early years. In 2021, 38,296 children aged 0 to 3 took part, either online or through their local library.
Our annual evaluation shows that the Summer Reading Challenge makes a huge difference to the children and families who take part, by helping children to read more often and enjoy doing so more, promoting confidence and improving wellbeing and family bonding.
Parents and carers of early years childen (0-5) told us about the benefits of taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge:
● 3 in 4 (76%) said their child’s reading skills had improved
● 3 in 4 (74%) said that reading helped their child feel better
● 3 in 4 (73%) said their child read more over the summer
● 7 out of 10 (69%) said their child enjoyed reading more and felt more confident doing so
Families also shared with us the difference the Challenge made to them last year:
"It was fun choosing different books and daddy reading them to me in English and Spanish. I like looking at the pictures! (She turned 3 couple months ago)"
- Girl, 0-3 years old
“My son is 2 and is deaf and has autism. I joined the library as something quiet and calm for us to enjoy together earlier in the year. Together we achieved the reading challenge and read over 50 different books. We discovered the sorts of books he likes and since then he has shown a lot more interest in books and reading”
- Parent of boy, aged 0-3 years old
Photograph © The Reading Agency 2013
How to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge
The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to develop the habit of reading for pleasure. Children set themselves a reading goal, and collect special rewards and incentives along the way. You can find more information on our Home Zone.
Head down to your local library to ask about signing up your child for the Summer Reading Challenge. Some libraries will provide our dedicated Mini Challenge materials for pre-schoolers; others encourage pre-school children to take part using the main Summer Reading Challenge materials.
Reward items, Challenge dates, and availability of materials will vary by location, so we recommend getting in touch with your nearest library to find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge in your area.
Children can also join in online, here on our Summer Reading Challenge website! Head to our Home Zone for information about how to sign up and take part online. The Summer Reading Challenge website is free to access and provides a place for children to rate and review the books they are reading as they progress towards their reading goals.
Children can use this platform all year round to keep track of the books they’re reading, find book recommendations by using the Book Sorter, and take part in fun book-themed activities and competitions from our publisher partners.
Beyond the Summer Reading Challenge, libraries have lots of other provision for children in the early years and for families. Head over to your local library to find out more!
References: Wheeler and Hill (2021), ‘The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood reading practices’, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy; Mendelsohn, et al. (2018) ‘Reading aloud, play, and social-emotional development’, Pediatrics; Gascoigne (2017), Talking About a Generation: Current policy, evidence and practice for speech, language and communication; Summer Reading Challenge 2021 Annual Evaluation Report