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Every year, local libraries take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.  Not only does it encourage children to use and visit the library outside of scheduled school visits and without prompting from teachers, it also keeps the children reading through the long holiday. Teachers know that children who don’t read for pleasure in the summer often lose key literacy skills by the time they get back to school, and it can take a few weeks for children to catch up and remember what they need to do.  Keeping them reading over the holidays is a sure fire way to make sure they hit the ground running when they get back to school.

The Reading Challenge takes a different theme every year.  This year it will be Creepy House.  The libraries will stock appropriately themed books which the children will be encouraged to borrow, and there will be activities related to the theme running in the libraries throughout the holiday period.  Activities are run in conjunction with the literacy charity, The Reading Agency and are designed to promote access to literacy for all.

Children will usually be prompted to join the reading scheme by school or through visits to school from librarians, keen to promote the scheme. It does however take place outside of school time, so parents are encouraged to support their child with library visits etc if they wish to take part.

Every year things like the Summer Reading Challenge become more important as library funding is pared to the bone and libraries are threatened with closure.  Keeping the libraries busy and a steady flow of borrowers ensures a future for your community library.

Despite the fact that the scheme takes a different theme every year, children can take out any type of books from the library. The only criteria for their success on the reading scheme is that they read the required number of books, and that they borrow those books from the library rather than reading their own from home.

The scheme is structured so that the children will generally be required to read six books  to complete the scheme.  They are required to read two for every section of the scheme they complete.  At each level they will receive different rewards. At the end they usually receive a small prize or medal and a certificate.  Their details are also sent to their school, and it is usual for the children who complete the reading scheme to be rewarded in some way, usually by mentions in assembly.

A new development is the Summer Reading Challenge website which you can access by clicking on this link.

The website allows children to become more heavily involved with the scheme and any related activities both nationally and locally.  There are forums where they can post and share reviews of the books they have read or are reading. They can also, if they are stuck for inspiration, use the site to input their details and it will give them a selection of books it feels they might enjoy.  There are games and other interactive elements to the site, specifically designed for children.

The child must have an e-mail address to register. If they do not have their own, they are able to use a parent or guardian’s instead, with permission.  Once the child has registered, the site generates them a password and an online identity.  No real names or contact details are used on the site, and material is monitored by moderators to make the site as safe for children to use as possible. It is, of course, recommended that you as the parent or guardian, keep an eye on the content or material your child is posting as even with the tightest online security there can be issues which could be avoided if you are monitoring your child’s online activity.

The website is active all year round, and there is an archive of material for you and your child to draw on, as well as information about upcoming events like World Book Day, as well as what your libraries are doing to support and enhance enthusiasm for reading and literacy.