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The Summer Reading Challenge and Schools

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 an annual event aimed at 4-11 year-olds. Children are encouraged to read six library books of their choice during the summer holidays and receive collectable incentives along the way.

It’s completely free to join the Challenge! To take part, children simply need to sign up at their nearest participating library.

Silly Squad, Summer Reading Challenge 2020

Every year the Challenge has a new title and theme. The 2020 Summer Reading Challenge, Silly Squad, will be a celebration of funny books, happiness and laughter.

Children taking part in the Challenge will join the Silly Squad, an adventure-loving team of animals who live in a colourful fun house! The Silly Squad love to have a laugh and get stuck in to all different kinds of funny books – but be warned: a mysterious baddy is hoping to ruin their fun!

The 2020 Challenge will feature bespoke artwork from award-winning children’s author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson (Amelia Fang; Evil Emperor Penguin; I Don’t Want Curly Hair).

Launch dates

The Summer Reading Challenge will launch in libraries in Scotland on Saturday 20 June 2020.

The Challenge will launch in libraries in England and Wales on Saturday 11 July 2020.

The Reading Agency does not set an official end date for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Local variations will apply, so we recommend you check with your local library service to find out when the Challenge will begin and end in your area.

How does the Summer Reading Challenge work?

The Summer Reading Challenge is open to all primary school aged children and is designed for all reading abilities. Children can sign up for free at a participating library during the summer holidays.

Children can read whatever they like – fiction, fact books, poetry, joke books, picture books, graphic novels, audio books, and eBooks all count towards the Challenge, just as long as the books are borrowed from the library.

Children receive special rewards each time they finish a book and there’s a certificate for everyone who completes the Challenge.

Throughout the Challenge, library staff and teenage and adult volunteers support children, helping them to explore a wide range of different types of books and enjoy a range of creative activities and events.

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 school’s 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 )
  • 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 or visit the library on a class trip to talk about the Summer Reading Challenge and the fun activities that will be on offer in the holidays. Staff or volunteers may be able to deliver a Summer Reading Challenge assembly
  • Encourage families to take part in the Challenge 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.
  • Celebrate the achievements of pupils who participate in the Challenge in September with a special 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.

Help us evaluate the Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency is searching for twenty schools to help evaluate the impact of the Challenge on children’s progress and attitudes towards books and reading.

Participating schools will be eligible for a range of rewards and prizes, including book collections, vouchers and author visits (pending availability). They will also receive an analysis of their test data for school use, and compensation for their involvement in the evaluation.

Find out more about our evaluation project and how your school can get involved here.


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

Reading Well for children

Reading Well for children provides quality-assured information, stories and advice to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. Books have been chosen and recommended by leading health professionals and co-produced with children and families.

The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11), but includes titles aimed at a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers.

Find out more about the scheme and access supporting resources here.

Useful links

Like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest Summer Reading Challenge news and to access special reader development offers and competitions from our publisher partners.

Our mission is to tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge and The Reading Agency’s work with children here