The Reading Agency and The Open University’s Teachers’ Reading Challenge returns for 2021

After a hugely successful inaugural year in 2020 that saw over 2,400 people take part, The Teachers’ Reading Challenge will return on Saturday 10th July 2021. The Challenge, delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with The Open University, encourages school and library staff to expand their knowledge of children’s books and develop their understanding of reading for pleasure pedagogy. The Challenge is open to anybody who is a Reader Teacher – including all education professionals, public and school library staff, and trainee teachers.

The Challenge aims to expand its reach this year, with Reader Teachers encompassing Primary, Secondary and Special School Teachers, Headteachers/ Acting Headteachers/ Deputy Headteachers, School and Public Librarians, English Consultants, Learning Support Assistants (LSA)/ Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA), Curriculum Leaders, Student Teachers, University lecturers working with schools and teachers, Heads of Pastoral Care, Language Teachers, and any other adults working in educational roles with children and young people.

The Teachers’ Reading Challenge aims to increase reading for pleasure habits amongst children and young people. It will run alongside The Reading Agency’s hugely popular Summer Reading Challenge, encouraging teaching staff and librarians to take the Challenge alongside the children. It invites participants to sign up to the digital platform and join a supportive and inspired community of educators and readers to set their summer reading goals, share reviews and recommendations, access resources and their learnings by submitting an example of practice. The latest Childwise report revealed that 1 in 4 5-16-year-olds don’t read for pleasure – while research by The Open University (Cremin et al. 2014) found that reading aloud, independent reading time, book talk and sharing recommendations in a highly social reading environment can help to positively influence children’s attitudes and attainment. School and library staff play an invaluable role in influencing children’s reading journeys, and the Teachers’ Reading Challenge provides the tools, resources, and forum for them to develop and apply their understanding of Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

The newly updated digital platform will include brand new features, such as: A Top 100 Books Review page, where participants will be able to access Reading Teachers’ reviews of the most popular books being read in the Challenge, brand new publisher resources on the Find a Read page, including book extracts, discussion guides and teaching notes, plus opportunities to win sets of books for classes or library users, an updated message board to build Teacher Reader communities, and a refreshed poster, diary and certificate for Reader Teachers to track their reading and celebrate completion. The platform also includes access to the Summer Reading Challenge Book Sorter – all books in the Book Sorter have been added by children who have taken part in the Summer Reading Challenge over the past 8 years, with over 1.3 million books read and logged.

In an effort to reach more children in secondary schools, the 2021 Teachers’ Reading Challenge will also include more resources suitable for children at KS3 and KS4, plus weekly booklists for both younger and older readers. YA titles and books that might also be read by adult readers can now be logged and reviewed, meaning more recommendations for those working with older readers.

The Teachers’ Reading Challenge is also being supported by Sora, the student reading app from OverDrive Education, and Pearson. Pearson will be partnering with The Reading Agency on the Share a Read campaign, asking teachers, parents and young people to share what they are reading this summer – these suggestions will be compiled to create book lists to support the nation’s summer of reading.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“We’re delighted to be launching our second Teachers’ Reading Challenge in partnership with The Open University. Last year’s Challenge showed there is a real appetite in the teaching and library community for a platform to exchange recommendations and provide a fun, collaborative support network. We’re looking forward to welcoming even more Reader Teachers this year, with help from our wonderful partners, sponsors and funders – as well as reaching more secondary age children and young people via the Share A Read campaign.”

The Open University said:

“Teachers’ knowledge of children’s texts is the cornerstone of developing reading for pleasure in schools. Our research indicates it is a key professional responsibility, which, when combined with tailored pedagogy, effectively supports young readers. Our pilot Teachers Reading Challenge in 2020 surpassed all expectations, so our hopes are high for 2021!”

Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Dame Lynne Brindley said:

“The Goldsmiths’ Company is proud to help improve lives through this exciting educational programme which aims to support teachers and schoolchildren alike. Building on the success of last year’s Summer Reading Challenge, aimed at schoolchildren, The Teachers’ Reading Challenge recognises the importance of sharing the pleasure of reading with children and bringing knowledge of children’s literature into the curriculum for a richer and more interactive learning experience. We hope with more direct involvement from teachers, we can help to increase the long-term benefits for children both at home and in the classroom.”

Katy Lewis, Head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson said:

“We’re immensely proud to sponsor this year’s Teachers’ Reading Challenge and join forces with The Reading Agency in our Share a Read campaign. We cannot wait to encourage more Reader Teachers to reconnect with the endless, varied pleasures of children’s books, and will be eagerly supporting them to #ShareARead this summer.

“We all know what a crucial part role models play when it comes to shaping young lives for the better. By diving into diverse reads, and sharing the joy of immersive, imaginative books, Teachers’ Reading Challenge participants can authentically communicate to their pupils just how much possibility, fun and wisdom is to be found in children’s literature today.”

To launch the 2021 Teachers’ Reading Challenge, The Reading Agency and The Open University will be hosting a virtual launch event on Tuesday 6 July. People who took part in last year’s Challenge and those who want to find out more will hear from a panel of educators, librarians, academics and authors about the impact of taking part in the Challenge and the importance of children reading for pleasure. Following a turbulent year for both school and library staff, the event will also focus on the theme of ‘reading and recuperation’ and explore the wellbeing benefits of adults reading books for children. Free tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

Sign up to the Challenge and find out more at www.teachersreadingchallenge.org.uk/

DK donates books to support Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes

Publisher DK has donated over 1000 books to support The Reading Agency’s Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes. 300 copies of Through the Animal Kingdom by Derek Harvey and Charlotte Pepper and 1000 copies of Crafty Science by Jane Bull, will be gifted to families as part of both the Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes, to encourage reading and science participation.

The publisher has been a partner in the development and design of Reading Sparks from the project’s inception, and the collaboration with partner organisations helped The Reading Agency succeed in their bid to Arts Council England for project funding.

Both Get Islington Reading and Reading Sparks are exciting new programmes testing out different ways of increasing reading and building science confidence. DK’s generous contribution will help us reach more families and try out different reading and science engagement approaches which will benefit children, young people and families across England.

Get Islington Reading is a three-year project generously funded by the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington, a charity run by the Mercers’ Company. The programme will support families of children aged 9-14, inspiring young people to keep reading in the transition between primary and secondary school, whenreading for pleasure can often drop off. Research shows that the longer children can sustain a love of reading, the greater the benefits; 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years above their peers who don’t enjoy reading. This rises to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.

The Reading Agency and the National Literacy Trust are working together with local partners including Islington Council Library Service, Islington School Improvement Service and Islington Education Library Service to develop a community of happy, confident readers across the borough, building on the work of local network Islington Reads. Get Islington Reading is encouraging reading for pleasure to change lives and increase the opportunities for young people. Crafty Science will be included in themed family reading boxes which will be distributed to Islington residents with children in the transition age-groups.

The Reading Sparks project is funded by Arts Council England and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The project is testing and piloting new ways of using creative reading to increase STEM engagement. 11 pilot library service partners in England are distributing reading and STEM book and activity bags to families who have been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemici. Through The Animal Kingdom will be included in reading and science bags, along with fun activities to engage children and families in investigating the natural world. Crafty Science will be gifted to children who complete the bags, providing an additional incentive to participate and fostering continued engagement with practical science and reading as a follow-up activity.

In addition to library partners and publishers, The Reading Agency are also working closely with specialist science organisations to develop and deliver the programme. The young people’s programme and the reading and STEM book and activity bags have been jointly designed with science education experts at NUSTEM at the University of Northumbria. The British Science Association, who are official partners to this project, will be recognising children and young people’s achievements through their Crest Awards.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“We’re hugely grateful for the generous book donation from DK to our Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading programmes. The Reading Agency are constantly trying to discover and develop new and innovative ways to share the proven power of reading, and these new initiatives this year have shown there is a real appetite among children and young people for exploring STEM engagement and reading participation. The encouragement and resources provided by the family reading boxes will benefit families across the country, and were delighted to have such a prominent publisher supporting our pilot programmes.”

Paul Kelly, DK Group CFO & Strategy Director, said:

“We believe in creating books for everyone; books that explore ideas and nurture curiosity about the world we live in. We’re excited to give our support to The Reading Agency as it tests out new approaches to engaging children and young people in reading and science, especially those who are experiencing disadvantage. We hope that the books we have gifted to Reading Sparks and Get Islington Reading provide a valuable contribution to sparking engagement in science and exploring new pathways to reading, helping to bridge the gap in science capital and reading engagement in communities across England. We look forward to seeing how these projects develop and grow over the next few years.”

Both programmes will be testing approaches which The Reading Agency hopes to expand and roll out more widely in years to come. Support from publisher partners, including this very generous contribution from DK, means that The Reading Agency can continue to build and pilot ambitious programmes, increase its reach, and explore more ways in which reading can tackle life’s big challenges.

Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall Revealed as Ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, in partnership with WWF, is delighted to announce that teenage naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty and award-winning explorer, presenter, and writer Steve Backshall, are ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021, as the full plans for the campaign are unveiled.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages reading for pleasure for children aged 4 to 11 over the summer holidays. The Challenge launches in Scotland and Northern Ireland on 19th June, and on 10th July in England and Wales. Teaming up with WWF for 2021, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes which inspires children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. The annual Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. The Reading Agency are aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1 million children with its new digital platform providing accessible, fun reading activities for all children.

With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or online, children will be able to join six fictional characters – ‘wild heroes’ – to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of ‘Wilderville’.

A ‘Welcome to Wilderville: Meet the Heroes’ digital campaign will run over summer with a different weekly habitat theme, led by the Wild World Heroes, including Woodland, River, Farm, Town, Home/School and the Beach. The characters and landscape are illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.

Over the summer term, WWF will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the nature theme in the Summer Reading Challenge and to explore some of the most important issues of our time through the power of reading. WWF will also be running school seminars and live lessons, with further details to be confirmed over June and July, and updates posted on their dedicated Summer Reading Challenge webpage.

A range of partners are also supporting the Challenge this year. Sky VIP are teaming up with The Reading Agency to offer thousands of VIP customers the chance to win a copy of Shark Seas by Sky presenter and Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador Steve Backshall. Customers will be invited to start their Summer Reading Challenge journey with Steve’s book at participating libraries nationwide – and can head to the My Sky app to find out more. The Challenge is also being supported by Pearson (sponsoring the digital platform’s School Zone) and Overdrive Education (sponsoring the digital platform’s Home Zone).

Dara McAnulty, ambassador, said: “I am so excited to be championing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, to encourage children to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. I’m 17 years old now – but not so long ago, the Summer Reading Challenge was something myself and my siblings completed every summer. It’s such a joy to now be an ambassador and encourage other children to take part in this wonderful scheme. I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with WWF for this year’s very special nature-themed ‘Wild World Heroes’, to help children explore ways of helping our magnificent earth. The Challenge feels more vital than ever after such a challenging year for school children, so it is brilliant to see the fun and engaging reading activities that everyone can get involved with, in libraries and online – inspiring them to help make a difference to nature. I look forward to celebrating two of my favourite things this summer… reading and helping the planet!”

Steve Backshall, ambassador, said: “I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for Wild World Heroes, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays. Wild World Heroes is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues! Happy Summer of Reading!”

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing further details of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, and to have the support of our wonderful ambassadors, Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall. We hope that this year, more children than ever will feel inspired and encouraged to sign up to the Challenge. After a difficult year for many, we are immensely grateful for the continued and longstanding support of public libraries, and we’re looking forward to working closely with them to help get children reading, alongside our brilliant partners and sponsors.”

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said: “Young people are the future - and they are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates for our natural world. I’m continuously inspired by our young supporters at WWF and their efforts to speak up for nature, often in wonderful and creative ways. We are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action. We hope it will encourage more children across the UK to get reading, and to take positive action for the planet – our one shared home.” 

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Reading is a cornerstone of children’s education and a key skill for developing their language and vocabulary. After the impact of the pandemic on young people, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is more timely than ever, and a great opportunity for children to discover the joy of reading while building knowledge of vital environmental issues.”

Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk for more information.

Find out more about the Wild World Heroes Book Collection here.

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency / @WWF

#SummerReadingChallenge / #WildWorldHeroes

Summer of Reading Resources

Are you looking for activities to keep your family busy over the summer? You’re in the right place. The organisations that are bringing you the Summer of Reading have lots of activities to share. There are read-alongs, games, quizzes, book clubs and so much more.

More resources will be added over the summer, so check back to find out what’s new.

Activities

Lots of our partners have online hubs where you’ll find videos, games, activities and more, all available for you to access for free.

  • Chatterbooks is the UK’s largest network of children’s reading groups from The Reading Agency, run in libraries and schools to generate discussion and encourage children to enjoy reading. The groups are run by librarians, teachers, teaching assistants, or volunteers – anyone with a passion for reading. Chatterbooks groups can access free resources and offers from publishers.
  • Looking for something fun as a family this summer? Enjoy storytime with BookTrust’s free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters. Go to BookTrust HomeTime.
  • Check out the British Library’s inspirational free webspace, Discovering Children’s Books. It’s brimming with videos, printable packs and activities inspired by the wonderful world of children’s stories. Create a comic or cookbook, dream up an imaginary school, write an animal tale or a miniature book, or Pack your suitcase with Paddington. Share your creations with us on Twitter @BL_Learning and we’ll be sure to celebrate your work.
  • This is the first edition of The Story Corner, Bookmark’s new magazine. It is packed full of stories, activities and games. It can be read online here or downloaded to keep. In December, over 16,000 free copies of the magazine were sent out to 106 schools across England for children to take home and enjoy reading over the Christmas break. In January, we gifted 13,000 more and were particularly grateful for the support of a large number of food banks and community groups who shared our magazine with families in their local communities. Keep an eye on our website, because there will be a new edition ready to read over the Summer holidays!
  • Scavenger hunt activity sheets from World Book Day in partnership with Twinkl – why not try one of our fun book-themed scavenger hunts over the summer? We have challenges for different age groups so you can pick the one that is best for you:
    Ages 5-7
    Ages 7-9
    Ages 9-11
  • Read for Good’s web app Track My Read (Think Strava for books!) offers children a fun and easy way to log what they are reading and to share their reading goals with their school, family or community. Teachers and parents can use Track My Read to encourage children to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge, so why not encourage your children, friends, or neighbours to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge and use Track My Read to see who can read the most!
  • SLA’s Recreate the Book Cover Challenge. Reading is all about creativity and the power of imagination. But who says the fun has to finish with the final chapter? This summer, we challenge you to help spread the love of reading by joining us in recreating our favourite book covers. We’ve shared the covers of two brilliant books we’ve read and loved, and now we want to see if you’re up for the challenge of recreating one (or both!) of them. Whether through photos, film, art – or even papier-mâché! – use whatever you have at your disposal to get creative this summer. The best recreations will win some beautiful picture books! Take part in the challenge now.
  • Reading at home is crucial to a successful Summer of Reading. Have a look at the Open University Reading for Pleasure’s work dedicated to Reading at Home. It’s packed with top texts and tips to nurture young children’s love of reading, from story time recommendations, to the seven steps of making reading aloud magical. Enjoy!

Reading recommendations

  • The Summer Reading Challenge from The Reading Agency encourages children aged 4 to 11 to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays, providing lots of fun as well as helping to prevent the summer reading ‘dip’. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme is Wild World Heroes, created in partnership with WWF and illustrated by award-winning children’s authors and illustrator Heath McKenzie. Join in the Summer Reading Challenge in your local library and online.
  • Reading Well for children from The Reading Agency provides quality-assured information, stories and advice to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. Books have been chosen and recommended by leading health professionals and co-produced with children and families. The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11), but includes titles aimed at a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers.
  • Mini Book Club from Book Clubs in Schools and Speakers for Schools – Year 7 transition is an engaging set of questions and activities based around everyone reading the same book. It is for new Year 7s to do over the summer as part of their preparation for secondary school. It will help build their confidence as readers and means that when they start school they will all have something in common.
  • The World Book Day Book Club brings you an exciting book each month, with videos and downloadable activities to make talking about books together more fun, memorable and magic. The August Book Club title is Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life by Sue Cheung, published by Andersen Press. You can read an extract from the book, follow a snack recipe inspired by the book itself, or download questions to use for discussion in your own book club from this month’s page. Be sure to watch our brilliant Q&A videos with Sue Cheung, where she reads from Maddy Yip’s Guide to Life and discusses this hilarious illustrated story.
  • Read for Good’s Book Recommendations is a great resource for teachers and parents to discover more about the latest books for children of all ages and on Read for Good’s Kids Page you’ll find our super- popular Storymaker game, plus videos and other fun reading resources to keep kids busy over the summer.

Videos – Read alongs and events

  • Read along to Lara the Yellow Ladybird with Nousha from Bookmark in this video. Children can watch the video and open and download the PDF of the story to read and keep.
  • Read along to The Bounce with Aurélien from Bookmark in this video. Children can watch the video and open and download the PDF of the story to read and keep.
  • From the Storybarn: Join The Reader each week online for stories, crafting and fun! As part of this regular weekly session, we’ll feature our some of our favourite stories from The Reader Bookshelf designed to nurture a love of stories and spark a life-long reading for pleasure. Dates: Weekly, Friday at 11.30am Facebook: @caldiessb. Half hour live stream, which will then remain online for families to re-watch and share again.
  • Book at Bedtime: Free videos on YouTube Classic titles shared chapter-by-chapter by some of The Reader Storyhunters – The Secret Garden, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or The Wind in the Willows free to watch whenever you want! Access: Free stream via The Reader website or by subscribing to The Reader You Tube channel
  • Share a Story Corner video books and activities from World Book Day – take ten minutes to share stories with your little ones. Our video books have familiar characters and easy-to follow-stories, as well as fun activities to complete and tips for reading together. New video stories include Ruby’s Worry and Ravi’s Roar from the Big Bright Feelings series by Tom Percival and Supertato stories launching in July.
  • 10 minute story shares from World Book Day – pick and choose which of your favourite authors & illustrators you’d like to share story time with in our short story reading videos.
  • Anna James is the bestselling author of the Pages and Co. series for readers aged 9+, which celebrates all that is best in life: books, adventure, friendship – and cake. Nicola Skinner is a middle grade rising star whose previous books have been longlisted for both the Blue Peter Book Award and Branford Boase Book Award. Friends in real life, they sat down to talk about their latest books and what it’s really like being an author before answering children’s questions! Watch the event from The Reading Agency now.
  • Join author and illustrator Bethan Woollvin as she reads from her picture book, Three Little Vikings and teaches children how to draw some of the characters! Watch the event from The Reading Agency now.
  • Read for Good and Everyman Theatre’s Summer Reading Challenge workshop. Everyman Theatre, with the support of Investec, has produced a great new play, Zeb and Cat Save the World. The play is inspired by the Summer Reading Challenge theme of Wild World Heroes. Join Everyman Theatre’s Camille for these two seriously fun virtual drama workshops and get kids excited about being a Wild World Hero!
  • Everyman Theatre, with the support of Investec, has produced Zeb and Cat Save the World, a play inspired by The Summer Reading Challenge’s theme of Wild World Heroes! “Zeb and Cat find that litter is really messing up their park and the wildlife is being harmed. Can you join Zeb and Cat and try to save the animals? A family show about protecting the environment for children aged 4- 11 years at locations across Gloucestershire this summer.” Add to the fun by participating in a drama workshop, based on Zeb and Cat Save the World. You can watch them here.

Blogs

  • A blog post where Bookmark has collated tips and advice from various sources to help you read with the children in your life.
  • A blog post where Bookmark has collated reading resources for children that are available online and for free.

Win two tickets to see The Father!

To celebrate the release of THE FATHER, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, Kova PR is delighted to offer one lucky winner two cinema tickets to see the film anywhere in the UK!

In THE FATHER, Hopkins plays the eponymous role of a mischievous and highly independent man who, as he ages, refuses all assistance from his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman). Yet, such help has become essential following Anne’s decision to move to Paris with her partner. As Anne’s father tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

THE FATHER is drawn from the stage play of the same name, which was written by Zeller and launched in Paris in 2012, winning a Moliere Award for Best Play, before hitting Broadway and London’s West End, where it won both Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Actor (for Frank Langella and Kenneth Cranham respectively). Zeller is currently directing the film adaptation in London, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Christopher Hampton (ATONEMENT, DANGEROUS LIAISONS).

To enter, please follow the instructions on Twitter or Instagram. This competition is open to residents of the UK only and closes at 4pm on 18th June 2021.

Terms and Conditions

  • The Competition is open for entries between 4.00pm on 10th June 2021 and 4.00pm on 18th June 2021.
  • Entrants must be aged 18 or over by the competition close date.
  • This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
  • To take part, entrants are asked to a) follow @readingagency and @lionsgateUK on the social media platform through which they are entering and b) to leave a comment on the Competition post saying why they would like to see the film.
  • One winner will be chosen at random from across Twitter and Instagram, given that they have met all the above conditions.

The prize for the Competition consists of the following:

  • x2 tickets to see The Father (Lionsgate UK) at any UK cinema where the film is being screened. The winner will be able to choose the venue, date and time of the screening and their tickets will be emailed to them by Kova PR.
  • The prize cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent.
  • The tickets will be eligible for as long as the film is in UK cinemas. Once the winner has confirmed the date and time with Kova PR they will not be able to change them.
  • The winner will be notified with a message from The Reading Agency’s social media account in response to their comment after 4pm on 18th June.
  • The winner will be required to confirm acceptance of the prize within 5 working days. The Reading Agency will endeavour to ensure that the winner receives their prizes within 2 days of the date they confirm acceptance of the prize. If the winner does not accept the prize within 5 days of being notified, they will forfeit their prize and The Reading Agency reserves the right to choose another winner.
  • The Reading Agency will share the winner’s name, email address and telephone number with Kova PR in order to process and send their prize. Kova PR will destroy the winner’s details once the prize has been received.
  • It is the responsibility of the winner to check the age and content suitability of the film for themselves and their guest.

The Reading Agency partners with the Evening Standard Stories Festival

We are delighted to be a charity partner for the Stories Festival, launched by the Evening Standard in association with Netflix to inspire a new generation of storytellers.

  • The Stories Festival will take place from 24-26 September at Picturehouse Central in London where the competition winners will be announced.
  • The festival line-up will include Jed Mercurio, Alice Oseman, Rabina Khan, Will Young, Rob Rinder, Ed Balls, Jack Guinness and Naoise Dolan.
  • TheStories Competition aims to discover a new generation of voices and is asking “What’s your story?”.
  • It will be judged by panels drawn from across the creative industries.

The Festival will celebrate a diverse range of talent; debut novelists, poets, screenwriters – sharing their stories, and their unique approach, to live audiences.

The Stories Festival will be held from 24-26 September at Picturehouse Central in London. The line up will include Jed Mercurio (Creator of Line of Duty), Alice Oseman (author of Heartstopper), Rabina Khan (Lib Dem councillor and author of My Hair is Pink Under This Veil), Will Young (Singer and author of To be a gay man), and Naoise Dolan (debut author of Exciting Times). The Festival will also feature a showcase from Stormzy’s #Merky Books (Penguin Random House) imprint featuring fresh young writers and a “proof party” from Dialogue Books (Hachette), where some of their hottest new talent will be unveiled and the audience will go home with a proof copy of each book. Tickets go on sale in early July.

The festival will give a new generation of voices from across the UK the chance to tell their stories and receive industry support, through an accompanying competition, ‘What’s Your Story’?

There are two categories: Young Adults (11-17) and Adults (18 and over). Entries should be up to 1000 words or, if submitted as a spoken entry on video, no longer than two minutes. The deadline for submissions is 11.59am on 30 June.

Judges include: Singer, songwriter, activist and author Will Young, Alexi Wheeler of Netflix and Phoebe Luckhurst, Features Editor of the Evening Standard and author of forthcoming debut novel The Lock In, for the Young Adult category, and Anne Mensah VP for Original Series Netflix and Katie Law, Evening Standard Books Editor in the Adult category, alongside Sam Parker editor-in-chief Penguin.co.uk and Bea Carvalho, head fiction buyer, Waterstones.

Prize winners will receive a writing mentorship, be published on standard.co.uk and have the opportunity to present their work at the Stories Festival in September.

Anne Mensah, Vice President of Original Series at Netflix, said: “Stories inspire – they gift us the ability to imagine our own possibilities and understand the truth of others. At Netflix, we believe that great stories can come from any country and be loved by the world. Therefore it is the great storytellers here – the authors, the screenwriters, playwrights, journalists, artists and musicians – that make the UK a natural home for Netflix. We’re incredibly proud to support the Stories Festival and hope it will excite the next generation of young writers and provide entertainment and laughs for us all along the way.”

Emily Sheffield, Editor, Evening Standard “We at the Evening Standard are excited to be launching this inaugural storytelling festival and competition, a major creative collaboration with partner Netflix. We can’t wait to hear your stories. I would encourage anyone who has ever wanted to write or tell their story to enter.”

Will Young, singer, songwriter, activist, author, radio presenter, DJ, performer and judge for the YA category said, “I really wanted to judge this category because at this age you can come up with such amazing, pure ideas. If you’re unconfident and not sure what or how to write, try writing as if you’re someone else and see how that feels. And then write as you again. It’s not about ignoring who you are, it’s about finding a voice and that will be a valid part of you.”

The Stories Festival books partner is Waterstones.

To enter the competition, storytellers can apply via www.stories.standard.co.uk/competition

To pre-register for the programme launch and ticket release visit www.stories.standard.co.uk

The Reading Agency announces Summer of Reading initiative in collaboration with over twenty organisations

We are pleased to announce a cross-sector initiative partnering with over twenty organisations to encourage children’s reading and learning over the summer and support families, teachers and librarians with free resources and events. The Summer of Reading initiative will launch on 14 June, with organisations working together on a shared programme of activity, aiming to reach as many families and children as possible.

Organisations taking part in the Summer of Reading include: Arts Council England, ASCEL, Authors Aloud, Book Clubs in Schools, BookTrust, Bookmark, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Calibre Audio, CILIP, Coram Beanstalk, Libraries Connected, National Literacy Trust, Open University, Peters, Pop Up Projects, Read for Good, SLA, The British Library, The Reader, The Reading Agency and World Book Day.

Throughout the summer, families will be encouraged to share their reading activity on social media with the hashtag #SummerOfReading. The extensive programme of activity will be available from 14 June, with new events and resources being announced every week, through to 17 September – including both digital activity and in-person events at libraries as they re-open. Confirmed events so far include Pop Up Project’s livestreamed showcase and their 10 Stories to Make a Difference launch at the British Library, as well as the launch of The Reading Agency’s 2021 Summer Reading Challenge with WWF and the Teacher’s Reading Challenge in partnership with the OU, to give teachers and librarians access to a wide range of reading for pleasure content for children and young people.

The initiative has been coordinated as part of a collaborative effort to help ensure that children who need the benefits of reading most have access to summer reading activity as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt acutely by children, parents and carers.

Sue Williamson, Director Libraries, Arts Council England said:

“Arts Council England is delighted to support The Reading Agency’s Summer of Reading programme. We believe not only in the proven power of reading in tackling societal concerns but also that reading is an immensely powerful creative act. As the national development agency for public libraries, we welcome the emphasis on the library network to enable so many to take part using library resources which are free at the point of contact in nearly 3,000 libraries across England. We also welcome the opportunity for publishers, booksellers and libraries to work together in support of this great initiative to encourage everyone to discover the magic that lives within the pages of a book.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“We are delighted to be collaborating with such a wonderful range of partners for the Summer of Reading. After a hugely challenging year, we are acutely aware of the pressure on families and teachers, and the vital need to tackle the attainment gap and ensure children and young people have access to fun reading activity. Last year’s Reading Together Day showed the power in collaboration and the appetite across the country for summer reading events and resources, and we are hugely grateful to all the organisations participating this year in yet another hugely important summer initiative to share the proven power of reading.”

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said:

“Reading is powerful: it teaches us new things, opens our minds, and inspires our creativity. Bringing together a brilliant network of libraries and other organisations, this new initiative will provide fantastic reading events and resources helping to reach those who need support the most.”

Head to readingagency.org.uk/SummerofReading to find out more.

Summer of Reading

The Summer of Reading is a shared programme of free partner events and resources to support families and teachers to keep children reading over the summer.

Coordinated by The Reading Agency, it brings together over 20 organisations across the reading, literacy and cultural sectors to inspire families to share the love of reading for pleasure to build skills, increase confidence, support educational attainment and improve wellbeing.

With Covid-19 disrupting education, it’s more important than ever that children of all ages are encouraged to read for pleasure, and that we support parents, carers and teachers with resources and activities to keep children and families reading. With the Summer of Reading we hope to reach thousands of families across the UK and share the proven power of reading, supporting them through the challenges of the pandemic and Covid Recovery.

The Summer of Reading launched on 14 June with a range of exciting events, resources and reading activities for families to enjoy! Check out our announcement here.

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Authors Aloud Virtual Summer Events

Authors Aloud are passionate about enabling children to experience the magic of books and meeting their favourite writers or discovering new ones. This summer they are working with library authorities in multiple locations across the country to bring authors and their storytelling skills to you!

You can see all of the locations and links to their events on the Summer of Reading Resource Page.

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Check out the Summer of Reading resources bank with lots of great resources like read-along videos, printable activity packs, booklists, online games and more!

Keep checking back as we aim to keep building the resource bank for families over the summer.

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Find us on social media! Every Monday we will dedicate our channels to the Summer of Reading. We will be sharing new resources and an events schedule for the coming weeks.

We would love for you to share what you are reading and the reading activity you are taking part in this summer using the hashtag #SummerofReading and tag us @readingagency.

If you or your organisation would like to support the Summer of Reading you can get involved by:

  • Using #SummerofReading on your posts from 14 June – 17 September
  • Download the Summer of Reading social media cards to use on your channels to promote your summer activity and the campaign to your audiences.
  • Tag @readingagency with your reading activity and we will share your posts on a Monday
  • Tell your networks about the Summer of Reading in your newsletters, you can find a newsletter asset alongside our social media cards

We want to ensure the Summer of Reading programme of activity reaches far and wide so please join us in sharing the proven power of reading!

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With thanks to all of our collaborating partners who have helped make the Summer of Reading a success and provided you with plenty of fun reading resources and activity.

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David Diop and Anna Moschovakis win the 2021 International Booker Prize

At Night All Blood is Black, written by David Diop and translated from French by Anna Moschovakis, has been announced as the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize. The £50,000 prize will be split between David Diop and Anna Moschovakis, giving the author and translator equal recognition.

Born in 1966 in Paris, David Diop is the first French author to win the International Booker Prize. Raised in Senegal, he now lives in France, where he is a professor of 18th-century literature at the University of Pau. At Night All Blood is Black is Diop’s second novel. The French edition of the novel, Frère d’âme, was shortlisted for 10 major prizes in France and won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens as well as the Swiss Prix Ahmadou Korouma. It is currently being translated into 13 languages and has already won the Strega European Prize in Italy.

Anna Moschovakis is a poet, author and translator, whose works include the James Laughlin Award-winning poetry collection You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake and a novel, Eleanor: or, The Rejection of the Progress of Love. Her translations from French include Albert Cossery’s The Jokers, Annie Ernaux’s The Possession, and Bresson on Bresson.

At Night All Blood is Black portrays a young man’s descent into madness and tells the little-heard story of the Senegalese who fought for France on the Western Front during World War I. After his best friend is mortally wounded in combat, Alfa, the protagonist, is alone amidst the savagery of the trenches, far from all he knows and cherishes. He throws himself into fighting with renewed vigour, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades.

The New York Times described At Night All Blood Is Black as ‘more than a lone man’s spiritual burden. Diop realizes the full nature of war — that theatre of macabre and violent drama — on the page. He takes his character into the depths of hell and lets him thrive there.’ The Spectator said ‘with elegant brevity, Diop presents a world with no firm dividing line between courage and madness, murder and warfare; the most dedicated killers are awarded the Croix de Guerre.’ Angelique Chrisafis commented in the Guardian that the novel ‘addresses a story woefully absent from French history books.’

At Night All Blood is Black was chosen from a shortlist of six books during a lengthy and rigorous judging process, by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, cultural historian and novelist. The panel also included: journalist and writer Aida Edemariam; Man Booker shortlisted novelist, Neel Mukherjee; Professor of the History of Slavery, Olivette Otele; and poet, translator and biographer, George Szirtes.

What the judges said

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, chair of the judges, says:

bq. ‘This story of warfare and love and madness has a terrifying power. The protagonist is accused of sorcery, and there is something uncanny about the way the narrative works on the reader. We judges agreed that its incantatory prose and dark, brilliant vision had jangled our emotions and blown our minds. That it had cast a spell on us.’

Tell us about your reading

Are you reading, or planning to read, any books from the International Booker Prize longlist? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us what you’re reading, where you get your recommendations from and what you think in this short survey.

Get involved

Listen to the brilliant Booker Prize Podcast with Joe Haddow.

Have you read any of the longlisted books? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and Instagram using #FinestFiction and #2021InternationalBooker, or click on a title above to leave a review.

If you’re discussing any of the shortlisted titles with your reading group, you can use discussion guides for each book provided by the Booker Prize.

The Reading Agency

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