Adam B, Max & Harvey, and Dr Jess Wade announced as ambassadors for science and innovation themed Summer Reading Challenge

National Science and Media Museum to host 7 July launch event

The Reading Agency and Science Museum Group have today announced Blue Peter presenter and author Adam B, musician and presenting duo Max & Harvey, and physicist Dr Jess Wade as ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge. The ‘Gadgeteers’ themed 2022 initiative aims to spread the message that reading and science are for everyone; it will have its launch event at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, on 7 July.

This year’s Challenge – run by national charity The Reading Agency in partnership with Science Museum Group’s five museums – seeks to spark children’s curiosity about the world around them by encouraging them to see the science and innovation behind everyday objects. The National Science and Media Museum aims to inspire the scientists and engineers of the future; it investigates and celebrates photography, film, television, animation, videogames and sound technologies. It will provide a stimulating environment to get to know the ‘Gadgeteers’ at the launch event. On 7 July, a variety of workshops and demonstrations will be held in the Kodak Gallery at the museum.

Additionally, Bradford Libraries will lead an interactive storytelling workshop with a science theme for children from local schools. The Summer Reading Challenge officially begins in Scotland and Northern Ireland on 25 June and England and Wales on 9 July. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries and through the digital platform, children will be able to join six fictional ‘Gadgeteers.’ The characters – brought to life by children’s writer and illustrator Julian Beresford – use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of interests from fashion and technology to cooking and music.

The Challenge and its innovation-themed book collection will show that imagination can unlock endless possibilities, and the library is where this starts. This list includes numerous options spanning picture books, early reader books and middle grade titles by leading authors and illustrators, including: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Melissa Castrillon, Sunita Chawdhary, Alex Falase-Koya, Saadia Faruqi, Vashti Hardy, Caryl Hart, SJ King, Katy Riddell, Dr Ranj Singh, Lydia Corry, and Leo Timmers, amongst many others. The full list can be viewed here.

The Summer Reading Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year and is delivered in partnership with public libraries. The Challenge continued to reach well over half a million children across the UK in 2021 as lockdowns eased, motivating children to keep reading during a difficult time. Families shared with The Reading Agency the ways that taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge helped their children to enjoy reading more, feel more confident about reading and ‘feel better’ during a tough period. Family use of libraries also increased amongst Challenge participants, with more than 130,000 children joining the library as new members.

Since 1999, the popular Challenge has encouraged children to read for pleasure over the summer holidays, building reading skills and confidence and helping to prevent the ‘dip’ in reading skills while children are out of school. By providing fun reading activities, the Challenge will support families and teachers by providing free-to-access recreation and learning resources – all created to keep children inspired to read. The digital Summer Reading Challenge platform will encourage children with limited physical access to the library to take part in the Challenge.

This year’s Challenge is also being supported by Pearson (sponsoring the digital platform’s School Zone) and Explore Learning (sponsoring the digital
platform’s Library Zone).

For more information, visit

The Reading Agency and National Literacy Trust team up to get children in Islington reading this summer

The Reading Agency and National Literacy Trust have today announced a programme of summer activity delivered with Islington Library Service, Islington School Improvement Service and Islington Education Library Service as part of their joint Get Islington Reading Initiative.

Get Islington Reading is a three-year project which is generously funded by the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington to develop a community of happy, confident readers across the borough, building on the work of local network Islington Reads. Get Islington Reading supports families of children aged 9-14, inspiring young people to keep reading in the transition between primary and secondary school when reading for pleasure can often drop off.

Highlights across the borough include the launch of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge from The Reading Agency, with a science and innovation focus and the National Literacy Trust’s Set Sail on a Story Trail based on Sita Brahmachari’s book When Secrets Set Sail.

The Reading Agency and Science Museum Group launch this year’s ‘Gadgeteers’ Summer Reading Challenge on 9th July
The annual Summer Reading Challenge will be back in libraries across Islington this summer. This year’s theme – ‘Gadgeteers’ – will spark children’s curiosity about the world around them. With resources and activities from the Science Museum Group, the Challenge focuses on inspiring children to see the science and innovation behind everyday objects, showing that reading and science are for everyone. The Challenge and the accompanying book collection will show that imagination can unlock endless possibilities, and the library is where this starts.

Mental health and wellbeing
Available in public libraries across Islington, The Reading Agency’s Reading Well for children provides quality-assured information, stories and advice to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. The books are chosen and recommended by leading health professionals and co-produced with children and families.

Celebrate World Environment Day with Islington Libraries on 5th June
Library staff will be reading picture books focused on the climate crisis and other environmental issues at their under-fives and nursery sessions, to raise awareness in an age-appropriate way throughout June. Community Park Rangers will be attending library Rhyme Time’s to host bug making craft sessions in the run up, too. Just one book can motivate a child to choose a certain path, encourage them to make important decisions and positively influence their behaviour or attitudes.

Join in Empathy Day with Islington Libraries on 9th June
Little Angel Theatre are joining forces with Islington Libraries to celebrate Empathy Day with a performance from their Kindness Library at West Library.

Children can also check out their Empathy Day booklist and pick titles for this theme. Reading empathy-boosting stories and poems can help to challenge prejudice and build connections between us all. The booklist can be found here:

Mark Refugee Week with Get Islington Reading on 20th – 26th June
This year, Get Islington Reading is inviting children to create their own ‘wish’ bubbles about their lives, friends, community and world, inspired by Sita Brahmachari’s latest book When Shadows Fall.

Through journalling, poetry and the lives of Kai, Orla and Zak, children are encouraged to reflect on the power of dreaming big, expressing themselves and the healing power of art.

Available on the National Literacy Trust website, Facebook and through schools, the pre-recorded workshops and activities can be completed at your leisure to encourage children to celebrate their identity, build empathy, and reflect on the world around them during Refugee Week and beyond.

Pay tribute to Windrush Day with Islington Libraries on 22nd June
Big Foot Arts Education is marking Windrush Day with a spoken word event, for invited primary school children, in partnership with Islington Libraries, at Finsbury Library. Through the story of one passenger on board the Empire Windrush, it tells the tale of one person embarking on the voyage of a lifetime. Little Angel Theatre will also deliver a paper weaving workshop to an invited Primary School class at N4 Library, using the theme of healing.

The picture book Coming to England by Floella Benjamin will be read at all Islington Libraries Under 5 and nursery sessions, while a mini display celebrating Andrea Levy will be hosted at their Central Library. Find out more here at @Islingtonlibs on Twitter.

Celebrate Pride Month with author events and scrapbooks
The National Literacy Trust is marking Pride Month with virtual author events, printed resources and an interactive booklist – this year with the theme of Pride Through The Generations – inspiring KS1-3 children to celebrate their identity and learn about LGBTQ+ people who made history. Author Ben Dean, author of Me, My Dad and The End of the Rainbow, will be leading a creative workshop for Key Stage 2 event on June 13.

Schools and families will also be able to access worksheets, for each Key Stage, which cover the Pride flag, families, gender stereotypes, identity and defining words – with an encouragement to reimagine Pride in your hometown. Meanwhile teachers will get access to session plans to accompany the topics. Head to the National Literacy Trust website, Facebook or Instagram for resources, updates and how to sign up to events.

Take part in National Literacy Trust’s ‘set sail on a story trail’ during the summer holidays
Get Islington Reading is hosting a free story trail, based on Sita Brahmachari’s book When Secrets Set Sail, which features bickering ghosts, a quest and a race against time through the streets of London. Follow the trail of clues, like Usha, Imtiaz and Cosmo in When Secrets Set Sail, and discover the hidden secrets of Islington.

Starting at Finsbury Library, children will be invited to head off on an adventure around the borough and winding back to the Lewis Carrol Children’s Library. Taking just 45 minutes, children will explore local cultural venues and discover Islington’s history – including Islington Museum and London Canal Museum – boosting their sense of pride in their area. Younger children can take part in a shorter 20-minute trail and both will be available on the National Literacy Trust website.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “Get Islington Reading provides new ways for young people to engage with the joys of reading at a crucial age where reading for pleasure often drops off. We know how important reading is for confidence and social connection to others, and hope that this programme of summer activity from The Reading Agency and National Literacy Trust will inspire children in Islington to embrace a life-long reading journey.”

Jasmine Tucker, Project Manager of Get Islington Reading, said: “We’re so excited to kick off such a jam-packed summer of activity to support children’s reading over summer.

“These activities will help to improve children’s literacy and communication skills, sense of wellbeing and increase their understanding of complex issues and how to express themselves.

“We want to say a huge thank you to Islington Council Library Service, Islington School Improvement Service and Islington Education Library Service, and The Reading Agency for supporting our work and helping us get it into the hands of the children and schools who need it most. We hope these activities inspire parents to help take an active role in supporting their child’s literacy during the summer months.”

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency @Literacy_Trust


The Reading Agency’s Chair of the Board, Matthew Littleford, is awarded MBE

We are thrilled that Matthew Littleford, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Reading Agency, has been awarded an MBE for services to literature.

Matthew joined The Reading Agency’s board in January 2018. He was formerly Joint Managing Director of betty, one of the UK’s leading TV production companies where he was responsible for running the business, editorial strategy, people and culture, business affairs and production management.

Matthew was the Editorial Director for Digital at BBC Worldwide, leading, creating and delivering the editorial proposition across their portfolio of brands and platforms.

He has worked as the Controller of UKTV, in charge of the editorial, creative and brand leadership, overseeing the re-branding of the business.

He also sits on Ofcom’s Advisory Committee England, and is an advisor to FMP, a commercial theatre company, Resource Productions, a company whose focus is on increase diversity in the creative sectors, and Jist, a small independent corporate production company.

Matthew said: “I am delighted to receive this award as part of the Platinum Jubilee Honours. I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work of The Reading Agency team, our brilliant library partners, and Arts Council England, for working with us to tackle the big challenges faced by people across the country through the proven power of reading. The transformative benefits of reading have never been more needed.”

We are also inspired to see so many of our valued library partners recognised in the Platinum Jubilee Honours:


  • Catherine Mann, Head of Libraries and Arts, Staffordshire County Council. For services to Public Libraries.
  • Christine May. Head, Libraries at Bradford. For services to Public Libraries.
  • Helen Osborn. Lately Director of Library Services, Libraries NI. For services to Public Libraries.
  • Susan Williamson. National Director, Libraries, Arts Council England. For services to the Library Sector.
  • Susan Wills. Assistant Director, Lifelong Learning and Culture, Surrey County Council. For services to Public Libraries.


  • Anthony Lambert Tyrrell Brown. Chair, Suffolk Libraries. For services to Public Libraries
  • Christopher John Lawrey Clarke. Company Secretary and Treasurer, Friends of Jesmond Library. For services to the community in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Sorrelle Clements. Service Development Manager, Coventry Libraries. For services to Libraries.
  • Susan Comitti. Libraries and Heritage Service Manager, London Borough of Hackney. For services to Public Libraries.
  • Robert Jones. Library Service Manager, Isle of Wight Council. For services to Public Libraries.
  • Emma Noyce. Assistant Director, Culture and Information Services, Hampshire County Council. For services to Public Libraries during Covid-19.
The Reading Agency

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