The Open University collaborates with The Reading Agency on Teachers’ Reading Challenge

Following on from last week’s Reading Together Day, The Open University’s Reading for Pleasure programme has partnered with The Reading Agency to launch a Teachers’ Reading Challenge.

Due to launch on 14 August, the initiative aims to create a community for teachers to share their thoughts and recommendations on children’s literature.

Similar to The Reading Agency’s popular Summer Reading Challenge, which is run annually to motivate more children to read during the break from school, the Teachers’ Reading Challenge invites teachers to read and comment on up to six children’s books on a dedicated Teachers’ Reading Challenge website. The hope is that the site will become a hub for teachers to deepen knowledge of children’s literature, access resources and share recommendations and advice on encouraging their students to read more.

Academic lead of the OU’s Reading for Pleasure programme, Professor Teresa Cremin said: “OU research shows that teacher’s knowledge of children’s literature is the cornerstone of effective reading for pleasure practise in school (Cremin et al., 2014). The Teachers Reading Challenge offers a practical and engaging way for teachers and student teachers to widen their repertoires, rekindle their pleasure in reading and share their passion with children.”

CEO of The Reading Agency, Karen Napier commented: “We’re thrilled to be teaming up with The Open University to present the Teachers’ Reading Challenge. Every year, teachers across the country support the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge and help their students discover the joy of reading – and we’re delighted that we can now offer them a dedicated platform to engage with the wider teaching community and delve into the world of children’s literacy.”

Get involved

Further information on the Teacher’s Reading Challenge will be announced in the following weeks on our website and on the OU’s Reading for Pleasure website.

You can also stay up to date on developments by signing up to the teacher’s mailing list on the Summer Reading Challenge School Zone

Artwork by Chris Riddell.

Summer Reading Challenge launches in Wales

The Summer Reading Challenge will be launched in Wales today by the Education Minister and the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.

The annual Challenge aims to get children between the ages of 4 and 11 to read six books over the summer holidays.

This year’s Challenge sees a shift to a new bilingual digital platform, supported by library e-lending services, online events and links to existing digital resources. The challenge includes both English and Welsh-medium books.

The theme of the Challenge this year is ‘Silly Squad’ and will celebrate funny books, happiness and laughter. Children taking part in the Challenge will join the Silly Squad, an adventurous team of animals who “love to have a laugh and get stuck into all sorts of funny books!”

Last year, more than 37,000 children from across Wales took part in the Challenge. Over 3,000 children joined libraries as new members, and 33,000 children took part in library events.

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “As a book lover myself, I know what a great pleasure it is to read over the holidays.

“Each year, thousands of children join libraries because of the Summer Reading Challenge, which is a really good way to develop reading skills, discover new authors and gain a lifelong passion for books.”

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “I’m really pleased the Welsh Government can support libraries with this year’s Challenge. The scheme has become an annual event for many children, who look forward to taking part every year.

“I’d like to thank all of the library staff involved in making the Summer Reading Challenge such a success in Wales.”

Nicola Pitman Chair of the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, said: “Libraries in Wales now have their biggest ever range of eBooks, comics and magazines to download, and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is set to really help young readers and parents maximise opportunities to engage with fun topics and stories.

“Click & Collect services are also coming into place across the country to help access library books safely during this time. With a new-look website offering lots of great resources, ideas and incentives, we love how easy it is to sign up online and get started. We’re looking forward to everyone getting silly and joining the Summer Reading Challenge squad.”

Karen Napier, Chief Executive Officer of The Reading Agency, said: “We’re thrilled to be developing a bilingual Welsh/ English Summer Reading Challenge digital platform, which will be ready for families to enjoy from mid-July.

“The Reading Agency are committed to ensuring the proven power of reading is accessible for all. I’m looking forward to public libraries and families in Wales taking part in the Challenge and having a seriously silly summer!”

Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “Nurturing and encouraging reading is more important at this time than ever before. Research clearly shows that picking up a book is not only good for our mental health and wellbeing – it also helps to strengthen and reinforce children’s language and educational skills. Good luck and enjoyment to everyone involved in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.”

Check out the Welsh Summer Reading Challenge website here.

Parents truly delighted by the many benefits of reading aloud to their children – and determined to continue

Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Books UK, discusses a new research study that took place during the Covid 19 lockdown

When lockdown hit we decided to take the opportunity to work with families and focus on parents reading aloud to children. Egmont has conducted extensive research into children’s reading for pleasure and we know that reading aloud to children is absolutely key in encouraging them to read independently. With families almost entirely confined to home, schools closed and parents home-schooling it was a unique chance to test and understand the impact of really focusing on reading, shining a spotlight on it in family life, for just a few weeks. What could be achieved with children’s motivation and enthusiasm to read independently, their attainment and their well-being?

And so the Egmont Reading Club was born. A large qualitative study involving 42 families and a total of 64 children (32 boys and 32 girls) aged between 3 and 12 years old, it was conducted over 6 weeks during the early part of the Covid-19 Lockdown (17th April -28th May 2020). The project involved families choosing 2 Egmont books a week per child, mums committing to read aloud to their child daily, or to co-read if the child wanted to read aloud, and to keeping a diary of the experience.

We had a mix of families signing up – some children reluctant to read and disengaged from the idea of reading, some already engaged with reading and books. Parents were interested in the project due to the lockdown situation: how to get through it, and, with school out, how to help with their child’s education.

Enormous impact on families

The project affected both the children and the parents profoundly. It was overwhelmingly positive for both the initially disengaged children and the engaged children alike, and for boys and girls alike. Clear themes include: (1) Parents’ surprise at the extent of the benefits (2) Reading became normalised very quickly (3) Well-being improved and (4) Attainment increased. The benefits were so great that parents have decided to continue with reading aloud after the end of the project. Have a look at this video from one mum who was so inspired that she wanted to share her experience and encourage other parents to read aloud to their children.

Reading for pleasure – whether a child reads independently or is read to – can plug the education gap incredibly effectively, with great joy and no pain! Perhaps we could call it learning by stealth. Reading aloud to a child is so easy to do and brings so much happiness to children and to families. But parents are not doing it in great numbers, not doing it often, and not doing it throughout childhood. If parents experience first-hand what can happen if they do focus on daily reading at home, they are converted. It simply requires situations that enable families to try it out and know the impact for themselves.

Read more about Egmont Books research and insights here.

This blog was written by Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Books UK for #ReadingTogetherDay

A Message from the Summer Reading Challenge Team

We apologise for the technical issues that some of you have been experiencing when signing up and using the Summer Reading Challenge website. The new digital Summer Reading Challenge is a pilot created in a short space of time to ensure that children could keep reading over the summer as a result of the closure of libraries and schools. Due to the speed of having to get the new website up and running, there are areas of the site that are not operating as smoothly as we would have liked. We are genuinely sorry that some aspects of this year’s Challenge have not been an easy process for those who have signed up, and very much appreciate your feedback which will help us improve the site for the future.

This year, as a charity, we seriously had to consider cancelling the Summer Reading Challenge and disappointing the thousands of children who normally take part. As you know previously the Challenge took place in libraries, with physical materials such as medals being available. With all libraries closed due to the current pandemic, we chose to launch the Challenge via a free digital platform making it available earlier than usual, as we felt there was huge value in offering the platform to children and their families who were living with the effects of lockdown and social distancing.

Since going online, we have been experiencing a huge amount of traffic to the website, nearly 50,000 sign-ups in the first month (100,000 if you include parent accounts!) This is fantastic, but as a result, it has caused a few delays and some technical glitches in a way that no one could have envisaged. Please note that the multi-step signup and verification process is a legal requirement as we adhere to GDPR regulations and our own safeguarding policy to ensure we keep all children safe online.

Please be assured we are working closely with our website team to improve the functionality of the pilot site and review the way the platform works, making changes and edits as we can along the way. As we continue to refine the functionality on an ongoing basis, your feedback is very valuable to us, especially as we take these learnings on board for next year’s Challenge.

As a charity and like many other organisations, we have been working hard to deliver business as usual, whilst also having to make use of the government furlough scheme meaning that as a small team, we are working with limited staff and resource. Some of you have mentioned a delay in receiving a response. We apologise if this process has not been satisfactory and thank you for your patience as we all try and navigate new ways of working in this complex time. If you have a query please contact the customer service team at [email protected]

We do hope that you and your family join the Silly Squad and enjoy the Summer Reading Challenge 2020.

Best Wishes,

Karen Napier,

The Summer Reading Challenge 2020 joins forces with The Phoenix comic

The Phoenix comic ‘crashes’ the Summer Reading Challenge 2020!

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge 2020 has joined forces with The Phoenix comic to bring more ‘silly’ fun to the nation’s most popular reading challenge.

A special take-over issue of the comic featuring activities, information and illustrations from Jamie Smart, Adam Stower and official Summer Reading Challenge illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson will be on sale from Friday 17th July with a FREE digital edition made available on the Summer Reading Challenge website from today (Wednesday 15th July 2020) until the end of September 2020.

Emma Braithwaite, Programme Manager, Children’s Reading, The Reading Agency says:

“We’ve always been big fans of The Phoenix at The Reading Agency, so we’re incredibly excited to team up with them for this special edition to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge. Comics are a fantastic way to engage children with reading – with their smart, funny stories and amazing illustrations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We want to say a huge thank you to The Phoenix for generously allowing us to host the special edition on our website, so that children taking part in the Challenge can read it for free this summer.”

Tom Fickling, Managing Director, The Phoenix says:

“We are absolutely delighted to partner with The Reading Agency to help spread the word about the Summer Reading Challenge. Getting kids of all ages reading is at the absolute heart of everything The Phoenix does. At a time when the pandemic has affected physical access to schools and libraries, schemes like The Summer Reading Challenge are more important than ever. So, get to the website and get reading!” 

The Phoenix is a weekly comic for boys and girls aged 7-14 containing stories, non-fiction, drawing guides and puzzles. Every issue is packed with new and exciting story strips from top children’s writers and illustrators from around the globe. The Phoenix is available on subscription and via news-stands nationwide.

Get Involved

Head to to join the Challenge. Click here to check out the special edition of the Phoenix comic.

Summer Reading Challenge – New Sponsors Announced!

The Reading Agency is delighted to announce two new sponsors for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and it’s newly launched digital platform.

OverDrive Education, the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide, is sponsoring the website’s School Zone, specially created for teaching professionals. The platform features information on how to support pupils and classes taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge, with resources to inspire students to read for pleasure, including assembly plans and teacher’s toolkits.

“OverDrive is proud to support the Summer Reading Challenge both as a sponsor and by providing twenty-six of the titles in this year’s Challenge on Primary Ebooks NOW, our digital library platform for Primary schools,” said Paul Davighi, UK Country Manager for OverDrive and OverDrive Education.

“This great selection of titles in the ‘Silly Squad’ themed challenge is available on our award-winning student reading app Sora and they’re bound to get children reading…you’d be silly to miss out!”

Hedrin (manufactured by Thornton & Ross) are sponsoring the website’s Home Zone, created with parents, grandparents and carers in mind. The zone features information on how children can sign up to the Challenge, and guidance on how to encourage children to read for pleasure and use the digital platform. Hedrin will also be providing a bookmark and discount code in Summer Reading Challenge activity packs distributed by libraries. Some of these packs will also be distributed nationwide by Arts Council England as part of their Let’s Create packs, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, with others being sent out to organisations such as the Variety Children’s Hospital at King’s College Hospital, Give A Book and Civic, who will help distribute them to families who need them the most.

Hedrin Brand Manager, Francesca Turner commented: “We are delighted to announce that Hedrin are sponsoring the home zone of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. Although this year’s challenge is somewhat different in light of COVID-19, the launch of a new digital format is really exciting and we are proud to be part of the programme to keep children engaged and interested in reading despite a disrupted school year. We expect this September to be even more of a stressful time for parents as all children return to school after the pandemic, so we hope the Hedrin discount code in each pack will make it that little bit easier to prepare for the classroom.”

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages children aged 4-11 to read during the long summer holiday — with research showing that children’s reading can ‘dip’ severely during the summer if they do not have regular access to books. With school life disrupted and many children missing the company of their friends, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is even more vital as a way of helping parents and carers find fun, family-friendly activities, maintain literacy levels and create a safe space for children to connect with their peers.

The website is free to access, featuring games, quizzes and digital and downloadable activities to incentivise and encourage children and their families to take part in the Challenge at home. As libraries begin to re-open, they will begin to provide physical materials where possible, while also continuing to deliver the Challenge through virtual services and e-lending platforms.

About OverDrive Education

OverDrive Education is the leading digital reading platform for K-12 schools, offering the industry’s largest catalogue of ebooks, audiobooks and streaming video. As a 100% digital company serving over 30,000 schools worldwide, OverDrive combines technology with content to support learning and reading in the K-12 classroom, library and home on all major devices. Sora, the student reading app, was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. Founded in 1986, OverDrive – the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide – and OverDrive Education are based in Cleveland, Ohio USA. OverDrive is owned by KKR, a leading global investment firm.

About Thornton & Ross

Founded in 1922, Thornton & Ross grew to become the largest independent pharmaceutical manufacturer in the UK, before becoming part of the STADA group in 2013.

From a base in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Thornton & Ross develop, manufacture and supply a growing portfolio of healthcare products including leading brands such as Hedrin, Covonia, Flexitol, Care and Cerumol.

Get Involved

Head to to join the Challenge and check out the Home and School Zones.

Reading Together Day – Ambassadors Announced!

The Reading Together Day (16 July) ambassadors and the shared schedule of events, delivered by 18 organisations across the publishing, books and education sectors, has been announced. The day will deliver a programme of activity to highlight the importance of reading together and encourage the nation to keep reading. The campaign aims to reach as many families and young people as possible.

Coordinated by The Reading Agency, the day will showcase events featuring collaborators including Authors Aloud UK, Arts Council England, ASCEL, BookTrust, British Library, CILIP, Coram Beanstalk, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Education, Dollywood Foundation, Libraries Connected, National Literacy Trust, Open University, Pearson, Publishers Association, School Library Association and World Book Day.

Scheduled events will include readings from authors and contributors, virtual panel events, book recommendations and much more. Ambassadors for the day will include Paralympic medallist and presenter Ade Adepitan, mathematician Bobby Seagull, Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, author Jacqueline Wilson, poet Joseph Coehlo, author and presenter Konnie Huq, Professor Teresa Cremin and author Tom Palmer.

People of all ages will be invited to take part in sharing the joy of reading for pleasure and will be encouraged to post their favourite things to read and plans to keep reading together this summer online using the hashtag #ReadingTogether.

Ade Adepitan commented: “Reading is fundamental and is such a lovely experience to do with family and friends. Whenever I read a passage out from my books, The Cyborg Cat series, and I do the voices and the sound effects, you can see the excitement and engagement of the kids grow. It is so important that we encourage children to read for fun and one of the best ways to do this is to do it all together — with or without the funny sound effects. This is why the Reading Together Day is so important and I’m thrilled to be able to be one of the ambassadors for this. So get ready to grab a book, grab a loved one and have an amazing literary adventure!”

Bobby Seagull commented: “As a child, reading books from my local East Ham Library opened my eyes to the world and changed my life. While a younger Bobby would have found it a challenge to pick just one favourite book, older me today would pick Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. This is the book my father named me after from birth! Without reading over the years, I may never have accumulated enough knowledge to be a captain on University Challenge or win Celebrity Mastermind! So it’s a privilege to be an ambassador for Reading Together Day to celebrate the life-affirming joy of reading books.”

Cressida Cowell commented: “It’s fantastic that so many organisations are coming together to celebrate the transformative magic of reading. Ensuring that children are given the opportunity to benefit from reading together has never been more important, given the huge disruption that children have faced over the pandemic. My Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter declares that every child has the right to be read aloud to, and I always encourage parents and carers to read with children far beyond the age they can read for themselves. Books read to you in an adult’s voice live with you all your life: I remember every book read out loud to me by a parent or a teacher.

Reading offers comfort, distraction, a way to travel when life seems dark and is closing in on us, a way to laugh when not much seems funny. It connects us both with strangers and, if we read aloud and enjoy them together, with the ones we love the most.”

Jacqueline Wilson commented: “I’ve long campaigned for a Reading Together day! I’ve always thought that reading together was a vital part of family life. Maybe one of the few delights of lockdown was the fact that parents and carers have had more time to read with their children. It’s such fun to act out a picture book with a toddler or share a special favourite with children. Grandparents have especially loved telling stories on FaceTime, schoolteachers have read aloud as part of online lessons. Let’s all celebrate on Thursday 16th July and get reading!”

Joseph Coehlo commented: “In a world dominated by online content designed to be a constant draw on our attention, there is a need to remember the simple pleasure to be found in reading together. When we read together, we open up a space for reflection, discussion, and connection all of which can be lost in our bubbles of insular consumption.”

Konnie Huq commented: “I am thrilled to be an ambassador for Reading Together Day! As a busy mum I know that finding time to read with your kids can be hard- but it’s so important to make the time to share books with each other. Until you’ve found the right book to turn you into a reader books are just rectangles on shelves! Sharing books with friends, family and loved ones is a great way to discover brilliant new titles and you never know, the right recommendation at the right time could turn a kid into a reader for life!”

Professor Teresa Cremin commented: “I’m delighted to be an ambassador for the Reading Together Day. The Open University research reveals that reading builds bridges – across families, classrooms and communities. Reading for pleasure is the thread that connects.

Reading changes lives and has many benefits which I’m looking forward to discussing on a panel as part of the day’s activities.”

Tom Palmer commented: “I am thrilled to be an ambassador for the first Reading Together Day – because family reading means everything to me. I am a children’s author because my mum read football stories and newspaper match reports to me, engaging me with reading through the game I love. As a dad, I read with my daughter from baby to teenage years and, looking back, those times were some of the best. Intimate. Interesting. Inspiring. This Reading Together Day, I want to inspire more families to discover the joy of reading together as I first did – through the beautiful game – so I’ve teamed up with the National Literacy Trust, the Premier League and Rebellion to provide families with free football-themed books, activities and videos to explore.”

As families and individuals grapple with the challenges of school changes, loss of support networks and the implementation of social distancing, the aim of the Reading Together Day is to bring families, friends, schools and wider communities together – encouraging everyone to start conversations, share stories, make connections, celebrate reading and have fun.

Get Involved

You can find the schedule of Reading Together Day activity highlights here.

If you would like further information about The Reading Agency, or to submit an interview request for a Reading Together Day ambassador, please contact Saffeya Shebli – [email protected]

Reading Together Day Schedule – Highlights announced!

On 16 July we are asking the nation to celebrate the proven power of reading and the benefits of reading together. 18 organisations across the publishing and literacy, culture and education sectors have collaborated to deliver a programme of activities to encourage everyone to read together, aiming to reach as many families and young people as possible.

Coordinated by The Reading Agency, the day will shine a light on the amazing work of the individual organisations across the sectors and will showcase events from collaborators including Authors Aloud UK, Arts Council England, ASCEL, BookTrust, British Library, CILIP, Coram Beanstalk, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Education, Dollywood Foundation, Libraries Connected, National Literacy Trust, Open University, Pearson, Publishers Association, School Library Association and World Book Day.  

As well as the activity highlighted in the schedule, each organisation will be hosting additional activity through their own channels throughout the day so make sure you check them all out. Keep an eye on our friends at the British Library who will be sharing their favourite things to read together – check out @BL_Learning on Twitter throughout the day.

We would love you to be a part of this celebration of reading; share your favourite books to read together, enjoy the schedule of activity from each of the organisations involved and remember to use #ReadingTogether on your posts!

Reading Together Day (16 July 2020) Schedule – Activity Highlights

Please note the schedule is subject to change.

8.30am – Summer Reading Challenge: The Reading Song (@readingagency)

The Reading Song: We hope you all enjoy the official Summer Reading Challenge theme song! Written and performed by Harry Baker and Chris Read. Silly Squad Character Illustrations © Laura Ellen Anderson. All other illustrations and animations © Daisy Mojave Holland.

9am – An Audience with Author, Actor and Comedian Ben Miller (@AuthorsAloudUK, @ASCELUK)

Join Authors Aloud UK and publisher Simon & Schuster for a live chat and readings, with author, actor and comedian Ben Miller. Ben will be talking about his new children’s book The Boy Who Made the World Disappear, which is a hilarious out-of-this world adventure about time travel, twists of fate and troublesome black holes (for ages 7 – 12). It will be hosted on Zoom.  

9.30am – Reading Together with CILIP: National Shelf Service and Carnegie Greenaway Awards (@CILIPinfo, @CILIPCKG)

Look out for the #NationalShelfService broadcasts from @CILIPinfo on Twitter or subscribe online for a day of book recommendations, including a draw along with Jackie Morris, who conjures an otter from her Kate Greenaway winning book, The Lost Words at 1pm; a tea time story, Luna Loves Library Day, read aloud by Joseph Coelho at 3pm; and story time with Jessica Love at 5pm reading aloud from her award-winning book Julian is a Mermaid.

For older readers, join the CILIP Carnegie Greenaway Awards on @CILIPCKG for readings by the 2020 Carnegie authors from their outstanding shortlisted books from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

10am – Story time for 0-5s with Ken, Ed and Chitra! (@BookTrust)

Join BookTrust for a live, fun and cosy story time session for 0-5 year-olds to celebrate Reading Together Day, featuring author/illustrators Ken Wilson-Max, Ed Vere and author Chitra Soundar reading their own stories.

Catch it on: Facebook/ or YouTube. And stay tuned to @booktrust on Twitter for lots of fun Reading Together Day ideas.

11am – Author of the Week with Tom Palmer (@Literacy_Trust)

The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with the Premier League and award-winning children’s author Tom Palmer to bring children and families exciting football-themed reading activities, videos and free ebooks to enjoy together at home.

Zone In

Check out the National Literacy Trust’s Zone In, a space for young people aged 13+ to access reading challenges, author exclusives and free audiobooks.

12pm – School Library Association (@SLA)

We’re starting with Smriti Halls talking about her favourite books as part of the recent ‘Representation for all: diverse books for children’ webinar for library staff, teachers and parents, followed by videos from SLA staff, supporters and volunteers reading from Anna Gain and the Same Sixty Seconds by Guy Bass and Toad Attack by Patrice Lawrence. There’ll also be booklists, reading tips and free webinar on 17 July to hear about the Summer Reading Challenge.

1.40pm – The Doves of Damascus by Ftoun Abou Kerech, read by Sir Nicholas Serota (@ace_national)

Sir Nicholas Serota from Arts Council England will read The Doves of Damascus by Ftoun Abou Kerech, from England: Poems from a School edited by Kate Clanchy.

2pm – Take part in the Launch of Cathy Cassidy’s new book Forever Phoenix (@AuthorsAloudUK, @ASCELUK)

Have you always wanted to ask your favourite writer best-selling author Cathy Cassidy a question? Then this is your chance to join Authors Aloud UK and Penguin Random House publisher and be part of the live launch for her book Forever Phoenix. Cathy is the author of the popular Chocolate Box Girls and the Lost and Found series. She will be talking about her book, reading extracts from it, sharing her tips for writing stories and answering your questions (for ages 8 – 14). It will be hosted on Zoom.
2.30pm – Reading Tips from the Department for Education (@educationgovuk)

The Department for Education will provide you with tips for reading together with children.

3pm – Read with Pearson (@Pearson_UK)

Join Pearson for a live YouTube event on Reading Together Day and explore how reading can be a truly enjoyable experience for children and young adults. We’ll be exploring how reading aloud can help build vocabulary from early years right the way through to adulthood, with curriculum expert, Mary Myatt. We’ll be taking a look at all of the ways in which books can be engaging and enjoyable for readers with children’s writer, Andy Stanton and author, SF Said, who will be taking us through some of the books that he has enjoyed reading the most and how they inspired him to become a writer.

The event will be hosted live at 3pm on the Pearson UK Learning YouTube Channel.

4pm – Join World Book Day for story-sharing fun for all ages (@WorldBookDayUK)

Celebrate reading together with lovely video stories for under 5s, fun booky quizzes, free audiobooks, masterclasses from your favourite authors and illustrators and our Power Book recommendations for young adults.

5pm – The benefits of family reading in and out of lockdown (@DCMS)

Read a blog post from DCMS and The Reading Agency presenting new research findings on children’s reading during lockdown and the importance of family influences.

5.30pm – Reading Treasure Hunt (@OpenUni_RfP)

Join the Open University to celebrate reading in all its diversity! Reading for pleasure involves books and so much more. Hunt for Reading Treasures (online and print) with members of your household and wider family, then share your hoard!  #ReadingTreasure Instructions for the Treasure Hunt can be found online.   

6.15pm – Reading Tips from Coram Beanstalk (@beanstalkreads)

Coram Beanstalk is here to provide you with tips to help your family to read together all summer long.

6.30pm – Say Goodnight with Dolly! (@dollyslibrary)

Join Dolly Parton as she shares some of her favourite stories for under-fives from the Imagination Library. 

Dolly created the Imagination Library as a tribute to her dad. She felt in her heart that his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams. Which is why inspiring children to love reading became her mission. In the UK we have sent over half a million books every year, and during lockdown we have sent over 160,000 to families across the country.  She says, “Reading together is just a wonderful thing to do, and it’s so important. That’s why I’ve made Goodnight With Dolly. I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love.”  

Reading with children right from the start has a massive impact on their development. It’s never too early to start! On our website you will find helpful reading tips and activities for preschool children and all 10 Goodnight with Dolly videos to enjoy – no matter your age! 

7pm – Reading as a Family: Top tips for Reading Together (@readingagency, @Parentkind)

This discussion hosted by Parentkind is a chance to hear from an expert panel including author Joseph Coelho and Professor Teresa Cremin, about the importance of families to children’s reading and ways to motivate your little ones. It will look at key benefits and practical tips for reading together, showcase fun, family-oriented incentives such as The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge and aim to answer any questions you have about why reading together matters and how you can get your children – and whole family – hooked on books.
Registration is open now.

8pm – An evening with CILIP Carnegie Medal winning author Anthony McGowan (@AuthorsAloudUK, @ASCELUK)

Join Authors Aloud UK and Barrington Stoke publisher live as we celebrate Anthony McGowan’s recent Carnegie Medal winning success for his wonderful book Lark. 
Anthony will be talking about the ideas behind the book and the others in The Truth of Things series, as well as giving us a reading or two and answering your questions. As Anthony says: “On one level, Lark is a simple adventure story. Lark is also a story about the power of stories and the way they weave through our lives (for ages 13+, teachers and librarians). It will be hosted on Zoom.

Reading Together Day Announced For 16 July 2020

Over 15 organisations collaborating to highlight the importance of reading together.

  • Families invited to take part in a celebration of reading together on 16 July
  • Shared schedule of events throughout the day featuring collaborators across books, publishing and education sectors

Families across the country are invited to take part in the celebration of reading together on 16 July as part of the Reading Together Day, coordinated by The Reading Agency. The day will showcase a shared schedule of events featuring collaborators including Authors Aloud UK, Arts Council England, ASCEL, BookTrust, British Library, CILIP, Coram Beanstalk, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Education, Dollywood Foundation, Libraries Connected, National Literacy Trust, Open University, Pearson, Publishers Association, School Library Association and World Book Day.

As families and individuals grapple with the challenges of school changes, loss of support networks and the implementation of social distancing, the aim of the Reading Together Day is to bring families, friends, schools and wider communities together – starting conversations, sharing stories, making connections, celebrating reading and having fun. People of all ages are invited to take part in sharing the love of reading for pleasure, to help build skills, increase confidence, support educational attainment and improve wellbeing.

All collaborators will participate in a shared schedule of events, delivering a programme of activities to get everyone reading together, with the aim to reach as many families and young people as possible. More details, including the schedule of coordinated events and ambassadors taking part in the day will be announced next week.

For further information on The Reading Agency please contact Saffeya Shebli – [email protected]

The Reading Agency and HarperCollins on a Mission to get the Nation’s Children Reading

Publisher HarperCollins and national charity The Reading Agency have teamed up to provide free e-books to libraries, books and activity packs to families who need them most, in support of the Summer Reading Challenge

  • 260,000 books distributed for the Summer Reading Challenge 2020
  • Free e-book initiative for libraries
  • 500,000 Summer Reading Challenge packs gifted

HarperCollins is supporting The Reading Agency’s drive to reach as many children as possible this summer, by working with them on a major digital aspect of the Summer Reading Challenge, and ensuring those who cannot access digital platforms still have the opportunity to benefit from the proven power of reading this summer.

The Reading Agency’s charitable mission is to enable everyone to read their way to a better life – irrespective of age or economic background. Reading can tackle life’s big challenges, from social mobility to mental health – and The Reading Agency are determined that no one is left behind.

This summer the focus is on families — and knowing that not all households can access digital platforms, The Reading Agency and Collins will be donating over 260,000 books and Summer Reading Challenge activity packs, to be distributed nationwide by Arts Council England as part of their Let’s Create packs, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. Arts Council England have worked with Bridge organisations to connect with food banks, community hubs and charities across the country to support children and young people most in need at this time. A further 240,000 Summer Reading Challenge packs will also be sent out to other organisations such as the Variety Children’s Hospital at King’s College Hospital, Give A Book and Civic, who will help distribute them to families who need them the most. Every pack will also include a bookmark, courtesy of Summer Reading Challenge Home Zone sponsor, Hedrin. Public libraries, that would ordinarily distribute the activity packs, will continue to provide them where possible.

The Summer Reading Challenge, run by The Reading Agency and delivered nationally through partnership with public libraries, launched this year on a new digital platform in response to social distancing measures due to COVID-19. To support the libraries’ digital offering, HarperCollins will also be providing them with over fifty children’s titles, to loan via their e-book lending schemes for free, with no limit to the number of times the books can be loaned during July and August. The initiative will offer the opportunity for more children to try reading digitally at a time when many libraries are still closed, while helping to raise awareness of the various digital offerings available to families from libraries. Authors whose titles feature on the list include Michael Morpurgo, David Walliams, Derek Landy, Lauren Child, and Summer Reading Challenge ambassadors David Baddiel and Ben Fogle, amongst many others, with some Collins illustrated non-fiction titles from the Big Cat and National Geographic series.

The annual Summer Reading Challenge aims to motivate 4 – 11 year olds to read six (or more) books of their choice during the summer holidays, with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge.

“The Summer Reading Challenge is one of our favourite events in the year – it’s fun, engaging and achievable and has helped countless kids experience the wonder of books. HarperCollins is always delighted to support the Challenge, but this year when so many children have not been able to read at school or in libraries it is more important than ever. So we are donating digital books, at no cost to libraries, so that children can access books throughout the summer through the library e-lending scheme. We are also delighted that, through our donation of 260,000 books, kids that are not able to access digital books can also participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.” – Fiona Allen, Communications Director, HarperCollins.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be working with HarperCollins on this wonderful initiative as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. Our goal at The Reading Agency has always been to help spread the joy of reading to those who need it most, and a major aspect of the Challenge is to work to ensure access to reading materials for all children and families who want to take part. In this challenging time, when libraries are still navigating social distancing measures, it’s more important than ever that we work to ensure accessibility for all – and the generosity of HarperCollins, with both their physical books and e-books, is helping us to achieve that mission.” – Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency.

Get involved

For further information on The Reading Agency please contact Saffeya Shebli – [email protected]

Head to to sign up to the Challenge!

The Reading Agency

Join our mailing list

Get our newsletters to stay up to date with programme news, resources, news and more.

Back to Top