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Pre-School Zone

Welcome to the Summer Reading Challenge’s digital Pre-School Zone.

On this page, you can find information and resources to support families with pre-school reading. 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, and 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. Scroll down to find out how you can join in.

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 said their child's reading skills had improved, and 3 in 4 said that reading helped their child feel better.

Families also shared with us the difference the Challenge made to them in 2022:

"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 fun. Children set themselves a reading goal, and collect special rewards and incentives along the way.

It's FREE to join, and you can take part at your local library OR online:

  • Pop in to your local library to ask about signing up your child for the 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.*
    OR
  • Children can take part online by signing up here, on the official Challenge website. You can set up a profile for your child with a reading goal and log their books. When they reach their goal, you will unlock a virtual badge and certificate.

Click here to find out more.

* 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.


Beyond the Summer Reading Challenge

You can use this website all year round with your children 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

Information for adults

Schools

Visit our School Zone to access free resources and Challenge ideas for your class.

Families

Visit our Home Zone, full of useful Challenge information for parents, grandparents and carers. For information about supporting reading in the early years visit our Pre-School Zone.

Libraries

Visit our Library Zone to find libraries near you running the challenge, and how to take part.