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Libraries keep kids catching up with Wild World Heroes, Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Posted on 30 Jun 2021

Libraries across Devon and Torbay will be pulling out the stops across the summer to help children catch up with the reading skills that were affected by missing school during the pandemic.

Libraries Unlimited will host the annual Summer Reading Challenge, which challenges kids to reach a goal for reading books across the holidays. Children aged between 4 and 11 can sign up and participate at their local library from Saturday 10th July.

Alex Kittow, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs all 54 libraries said: “The Summer Reading Challenge comes at a pivotal time, as the impact of school closures during lockdown has caused children to fall behind. Every year children experience a drop in reading levels over the summer break, which the Summer Reading Challenge goes a long way to help recover. However, this year the Covid19 crisis and restrictions have exacerbated this issue.

He added: “Last summer during the early stages of the impact of lockdown and restrictions, we moved the challenge online so children could still take part.  Numbers were lower due to the pandemic and we are keen to reach as many children as we can. This year it is more important than ever to encourage children to read, and the Summer Reading Challenge is the perfect opportunity to capture their imaginations and get them back on track.”

According to the Juniper Education National Dataset Report, children aged 5 – 6 years have been the most affected by the covid-19 pandemic, with a 25% drop of year 1 pupils performing at or above their expected level. On top of this, evidence shows that younger children have been slower to recover educational progress following the lifting of restrictions.

Kate MacKenzie, Service Development Manager at Libraries Unlimited said: “We are currently boosting our children’s collections to ensure that children have a wide choice of exciting reads to keep them going through the summer. The Summer Reading Challenge has been shown to be an effective Covid recovery tool, re-engaging children with reading whilst boosting their wellbeing. Due to the pandemic, keeping up with learning has been a huge challenge for children of all ages. The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun way to start bridging that gap, whilst instilling a love of reading that may stay with them long after the challenge finishes.”

The Summer Reading Challenge, presented by The Reading Agency, is delivered in partnership with Libraries Unlimited and funded by Arts Council England. The challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. This year it will run from 10th July – 10th September.

This year the theme for the challenge is Wild World Heroes, created in partnership with WWF and illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie. Children are encouraged to think about ways to help the heroes preserve nature and wildlife, exploring real-world threats to the natural world and possible solutions.

Every child chooses their own reading goal (six books is a recommendation), collecting stickers along the way to completing their personal reading challenge. When they have finished and met their goal, they will receive a certificate and a medal from their local library and be entered into a prize draw.

Libraries will be hosting a range of exciting activities and events throughout the Challenge, in line with government restrictions. Many of these are likely to take place online due to rules on public gatherings, but further details and updates will be available on the Libraries Unlimited website and social media.

Kids can also create a profile on the Summer Reading Challenge website to access games, earn badges, and review the books they read. All accounts for those under 16 must be linked to a parents/carers account, ensuring the safety of children online.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.