Our first-ever Christmas Mini-Challenge for children encouraged young readers in their droves to get involved online, after bestselling author Cressida Cowell invited children to head to their local library and read any three books they liked over the school winter holidays, logging them on their own profile on the Summer Reading Challenge website.
As a result, the Summer Reading Challenge website notched up 6,794 unique visits and 72,780 page views, with the average duration of a visit to the site lasting an impressive 5 minutes 28 seconds. Spurring children on was the reward of a special 'virtual badge' to add to their profile, plus a secret reward video message from Cressida Cowell for everyone who successfully completed the Mini-Challenge; 682 did so in this inaugural year.
Levent Broka, 7, from Gateshead, told us what he enjoyed best about our new Christmas Mini Reading Challenge after his sister Lija wrote and told us about his love of collecting 'virtual badges' to add to his profile on the Summer Reading Challenge website.
Over the Christmas holidays the weather was rainy and sometimes icy, so it was good to have the Christmas Mini Reading Challenge to keep me busy.
My favourite book which I read for the Mini Challenge was a Horrid Henry one, and I also liked reading books about magic. It was fun, and I learned things. I also got another badge. I've done two Summer Reading Challenges and I've got lots of badges on my profile: collecting badges is good because it helps you to keep going with the Challenges.
You get more time to read during the school holidays - I really like reading and getting more information.
Doing reading challenges is fun and exciting. I'm going to do the Summer Reading Challenge again in the summer, and the next Mini Reading Challenge next winter.
Levent's mum Ija loves seeing him do our reading challenges. She said:
Levent is always really excited every time he gets a badge! It's exciting for children and it gives them inspiration. Reading is so important for children's development.
Spring Update: Levent has now collected his 100 book badge on the Summer Reading Challenge website and is looking forward to taking part in this year's Mythical Maze challenge.
Libraries and schools promoted the Christmas Mini-Challenge by downloading a special promotional poster. Many of them got into the festive spirit by creating fun and interactive video blogs for the website; for example The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Libraries' blog included tips on how to make cost-free Christmas decorations from recycled materials, including a Christmas tree made from old books which took pride of place in Barking Library.
The Christmas Mini-Challenge's online achievements follow on from the success of the Summer Reading Challenge website, which had 188,689 visitors between 1 June and 30 September, visiting the site 343,876 times, with 3,916,895 million page views. Children added 192,661 books to the Book Sorter, which helps children to find recommendations for their next read. The Summer Reading Challenge is growing in popularity and the Christmas Mini-Challenge will now be an annual event.
Children can visit the Summer Reading Challenge website all year round for author videos, book recommendations and competitions.
Parents can join us on our Facebook page for all the latest Summer Reading Challenge news.
If your child enjoyed taking part in the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge please consider donating to our campaign and help us reach more children in 2014. It only costs £3 for three disadvantaged children to take part in the Challenge for free. Please donate £3 to our campaign by texting READ06 £3 to 70070 or by visiting justgiving.com/SummerReadingChallenge.