990,584 books read so far

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 designed for children between the ages of 4 and 11. It is completely free and last year 699,076 children took part in libraries across the UK.

Every year the Challenge has a new theme. The Summer Reading Challenge 2019 theme is Space Chase, an out-of-this-world adventure inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Children taking part in the Challenge will join our super space family, The Rockets, for a thrilling mission to track down books nabbed by mischievous aliens!

Space Chase will feature bespoke artwork from top children’s illustrator, Adam Stower, and will celebrate adventure, exploration, reading and fun!

Photos © Dave Warren 2019 for The Reading Agency with thanks to Pancras Square Library

How does the Summer Reading Challenge work?


The Summer Reading Challenge will launch in libraries in Scotland on Saturday 22 June 2019.

The Challenge will launch in libraries in England and Wales on Saturday 13 July 2019.

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

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

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 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:

  • Share the Space Chase video trailer in class or during assembly
  • 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. Download our free resources including information leaflets, promotional posters, a school information pack and activity sheet to share with your pupils
  • 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.

It’s free, local and inclusive

  • The Summer Reading Challenge is inclusive of all children and families and all stages of reading development.
  • 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 rewards 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 for more information.
  • Libraries stock accessible texts, audio books, dual – language books, picture books and graphic novels.


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.

Last year, almost 8,000 young people gave their time in libraries across the country during the summer holidays, and helped children read and share books.

Find out more about Reading Hack 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.

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 offers and competitions from our publisher partners.

Read our blog on Twinkl

Listen to Lynne Livingston from the RNIB Library explain how children can access books in braille, Giant Print and audio formats, and hear extracts from some of the brilliant books in the Space Chase collection read aloud.

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