Summer Reading Challenge 2017: The Reading Agency and libraries announce increased participation for Animal Agents as Beano theme announced for 2018

  • 761,758 children took part in Animal Agents across the UK, an increase of 6,550 on 2016’s total
  • This includes 27,206 pre-school participants
  • 44% of participants were boys
  • Number of children participating digitally up by 24.7%
  • 7,763 Reading Hack volunteers aged 12 to 24 took part

22 November 2017: More children got reading at their local library this summer than last year, according to new statistics released today by The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians for the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge.

A total of 761,758 children across the UK took part in Animal Agents, the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, at their local library. This is an increase of 6,550 (0.87%) on 2016’s total, despite the still challenging climate facing UK public library services.

Research shows that only 1 in 4 boys read outside of school every day. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge participant report shows that 44% of Animal Agents participants were boys.

More pre-school participants and digital engagement

This year’s overall figure includes 27,206 pre-schoolers who took part in the specially designed Mini Challenge – an increase of 7.05% on last year. The Mini Challenge enables younger siblings to have their own “Challenge”, provides a family friendly introduction to the local library and helps parents and carers build confidence to share and read aloud with their children.

To add to the good news, Animal Agents fostered increased online engagement on the official Summer Reading Challenge website. 192,358 users (an increase of 24.7% on 2016) spent more time on the site engaging with content and other users, with large boosts for page views (+154%); chat (+216%), and book recommendations (+159%).

Each year the Summer Reading Challenge to children is simple. They’re encouraged to read six or more books of their choice – fact books, joke books, picture books, audio books just as long as they are borrowed from the library – during the school summer holidays. There are collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge. Children can sign up at their local library as the holidays begin. 97% of UK authorities (excluding Northern Ireland) took part in the Summer Reading Challenge this summer.

Other key findings from the participation report include:

  • 89,632 book reviews were written by children on the Summer Reading Challenge website
  • In addition to the 761,758 children who took part in the UK, 18,400 children took part via the British Council and army
  • Libraries ran 17,814 Summer Reading Challenge-themed events
  • 86,709 children joined the library as new members

“Reading helps children make sense of their world”

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency says:

“We are delighted by the results of the Summer Reading Challenge this year. It is great to know that so many families made the most of their library over the holidays and we are full of admiration for the work done by librarians and Reading Hack volunteers to keep children reading every summer.

“Reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status which is why we work with our public library partners to open up reading to everyone.”

Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians (and Head of Libraries, Information and Archives with Manchester City Council) says:

“Reading helps children to make sense of their world and to open up entirely new ones. That’s why I am so pleased to see that an extra 6,550 children took part in this year’s challenge. SCL is committed to continue our work in libraries with The Reading Agency to promote children’s reading for many years to come.”

Lauren Child, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2017-19 says:

“The Summer Reading Challenge is about reading for the pleasure of reading. Stories are important because they nourish us and broaden our thinking. Librarians and all those involved in the huge success of the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge know how important this is and seek to change lives one book at a time.”

Looking ahead to 2018, the next Summer Reading Challenge will be called Mischief Makers, inspired by the much-loved iconic children’s title Beano, which celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2018. The Mischief Makers Summer Reading challenge will sit alongside a host of celebrations planned by Beano Studios throughout the year.

Emma Scott, CEO at Beano Studios, says:

“We’re delighted to be the Summer Reading Challenge’s creative partner for 2018, Beano’s 80th year. Funny adventures and mischief have been at the heart of Beano’s storytelling for the past eight decades, from the comics to the annual and now online on With the Summer Reading Challenge now reaching three quarters of a million participants each year, we’re looking forward to working together to help children become a little more mischievous in their reading adventures.”

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