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The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge is asking the nation to join the Silly Squad!

The ever popular Summer Reading Challenge returns this year to encourage children age 4-11 to take part in the Challenge and a Let's Get Silly virtual event that the whole family can enjoy. 

Ambassador Jacqueline Wilson, author and supporter of the Summer Reading Challenge says: “I feel the Summer Reading Challenge is extra important this year! How sensible to have a Silly theme. We've all had to deal with serious and scary issues, so it's time for a bit of fun. There are so many comical and crazy children's books to cheer us all up. Let's get reading and get happy!” 

The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and get stuck in to all different kinds of funny books. This year, the Challenge features extra special characters designed by the award-winning author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, who you’ll know from amazing reads like Amelia Fang and I Don't Want to be Quiet! The event begins with an online virtual party on 5 June, hosted by CBBC presenters Sam and Mark, with special author and celebrity guests and lots of super silly activities and entertainment. Events include poetry with performance poet and playwright Joseph Coelho, draw-a-longs with Laura Ellen Anderson, and Rob Biddulph and readings and jokes from authors including David Baddiel, Philip Ardagh and Samantha Baines.

Launching earlier than usual, The Reading Agency hopes to keep children reading from now and throughout the summer months with incentives, and support and inspiration available online. The Challenge, normally run in conjunction with local libraries and supported by many schools and teachers, has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis but libraries have responded and will continue to deliver the Challenge through virtual services and e-lending platforms. 

This year’s theme will offer families a chance to have fun and just “GET SILLY!”, with children being encouraged to read anything that makes them happy - whether it be a comic, joke book, poetry, fiction or non-fiction, in digital or print format, from e-book lending through the public library service or from what they already have at home, with the Summer Reading Challenge official book collection as a guide. 

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency commented: “We’re hugely excited to share our new digital Summer Reading Challenge with families across the country this year. The new digital offering will ensure that families and libraries can still take part in the Challenge and help us realise our mission of tacking life's big challenges through the proven power of reading. We are working closely with partners to distribute physical reading materials to those who cannot access digital and working with our library partners to deliver a blended digital and physical model when they reopen. In these difficult times it’s more important than ever that families find ways to have fun and be silly together, while ensuring that children receive the support they need to maintain and build their literacy skills and remain connected with their peers.”

The Summer Reading Challenge runs from June to September and children are encouraged to read six library books to complete the Challenge and there are rewards to collect along the way. 

Introduced to the world in 1999, the Summer Reading Scheme is the biggest children's reading for pleasure programme in the UK. In its launch year the Challenge was an instant success with over 440,000 children taking part. In the last twenty years, children have taken part in the Challenge over 13 million times. Many children love the Challenge so much they take part year after year!

Research suggests that reading for pleasure is more important for children's cognitive development than their parents' level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. Children who regularly read gain higher results in maths, vocabulary and spelling tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly, and are more likely to have better job prospects. 

A recent survey commissioned by The Reading Agency showed that 45% of young people are reading more during lockdown and we think the Summer Reading Challenge is a brilliant way to nurture and foster this enthusiasm for books!

About The Reading Agency: 

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds; our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life. We help 1.8 million people benefit from reading every year, through our programmes, our tireless campaigning, our excellent networks and our power to influence, challenge and make change happen. Twitter | Facebook

About Arts Council England: 

The Arts Council is the national development agency for creativity and culture.  By 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help deliver this vision. 

You can find great book suggestions, heaps of super silly activities, quizzes, videos, games and more to keep you entertained at home at

You can also follow the Summer Reading Challenge Facebook page, and The Reading Agency twitter @readingagency.

Comments (1)

Yvonne H - 21st May 2020

A grat way to get children reading

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