(Sue Wilkinson with Roly Keating, Sarah McIntyre and Malorie Blackman at British Library Summer Reading Challenge event)
Having joined us in January 2014, Sue Wilkinson is about to experience her first Summer Reading Challenge as CEO of The Reading Agency. Here she writes about her hopes for children to find new books and gain confidence in recommending reads to others.
Children requesting library visits
On 9 July we held a Summer Reading Challenge event at The British Library to celebrate the 16th year of this wonderful programme with our library partners and supporters. At the event I said that one of our measures of success for the Challenge is that thousands of parents are being bombarded over the course of the school summer holidays with requests to go to the library. We want parents to be saying "but we only went yesterday" and children to be saying "I know, but I need to go again because I have finished this book and I want to get another sticker."
Finding innovative and exciting ways to get people reading is what we are all about. We want the Summer Reading Challenge to inspire children to read and to want to read more; to encourage them to share the joy and pleasure which comes from reading through passing books on to others. We also want to celebrate their enjoyment of the Challenge and their successful completion of it. We know from our evaluation how proud children and their families feel when they get the certificates and medals.
(Photo © Dave Warren for The Reading Agency. With thanks to Deptford Lounge, Lewisham Library and Information Service.)
Passing books on
This year as well as reading six books, we are encouraging children to recommend or 'pass on' a book they have loved to a friend, parent, grandparent or teacher, and to read a book that has been 'passed on' to them. The new National Curriculum for England says that pupils should be "recommending books that they have read to their peers" and that they should be "giving reasons for their choice" - we hope that participating in the Challenge will help children to practice these skills, getting them ahead of the curve and inspiring others to want to read the books that they have enjoyed.
Our goal is for all the children who take the Challenge to go back to school having had a great time, feeling that they have read books they are going to remember forever and with a huge confidence in their own ability to choose and recommend books that others will love.
A host of hugely popular children's authors including Eoin Colfer, Cathy Cassidy, Cressida Cowell, Liz Pichon, Rick Reardon, and Michael Morpurgo are lending their support to this 'pass it on' campaign by recording video messages and recommending their favourite children's books on social media. Eoin Colfer recommends Bodyguard Ransom by Chris Bradford:
Choice and sharing underpin reading for pleasure which in turn is the key to developing a life-long reading habit - possibly the most important goal for any National Curriculum. Because everything changes when we read.
Take a look at the photos from the event at the British Library on 9 July.
Children can visit the Summer Reading Challenge website to create a profile, chat about books, and get help on what to read next, via the digital Book Sorter which already offers over 300,000 peer- to -peer children's book recommendations.
Adults and young people can get involved too through our #PassABook social media campaign. Simply think of a book to pass on to the next generation and share it via twitter or Facebook. From 12 July we'll be collating the book recommendations on our Summer Reading Challenge facebook page so that parents can find new book suggestions for their children this summer.
Help us reach more children in 2015 - you can text READ06 £3 to 70070 to donate £3 and get 3 more children reading next summer. You can also visit our JustGiving page to donate an amount of your choice.