On 19 June an event was hosted by Fiona McLeod MSP at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland, which we deliver with Scotland's libraries. The event was attended by Children's Laureate and our Ambassador Malorie Blackman who was helping to promote the Challenge at Craigmillar library the following morning. Miranda McKearney gave the following speech at the event.
The Summer Reading Challenge is our biggest programme. It inspires children aged 4-11 to read six books in the summer holidays, a time when literacy levels can fall, and when disadvantaged children can drop seriously behind. The Challenge is the UK's biggest children's reading promotion. It involves 750,000 children each year and accounts for 20% of all children's books borrowed.
You can imagine that with so many children taking part in the Challenge we're flooded with excited messages. Last year we had one from a nine year old girl who said "This is the first time I've done the Summer Reading Challenge. I used to hate books but now I love them. Thank you." Here was a girl who'd got to all the way to nine and hated books. Books, with all the glorious richness we here all take for granted - a source of joy, inspiration, learning, comfort, escape...imagine hating them!
Alarmingly, she's not unusual - 40% of our young people say they don't enjoy reading. That's extremely serious because research shows that enjoyment of reading is not only crucial to literacy acquisition, but there's something very special about it in relation to life chances, social mobility. OECD and Oxford Uni research shows that enjoying reading can help a child bust out of a difficult, disadvantaged start in life, and that reading for enjoyment is the only out of school activity for 16 year olds that can be demonstrably linked to getting a better job.
So the Summer Reading Challenge is a crucial reading for pleasure intervention from the people who know how to turn children on to reading - librarians. The Challenge has a simple magic - it now makes reading really really fun.
In Scotland the Challenge is known as the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge because it receives magnificent support from Tesco Bank. It's no accident that since Tesco Bank's sponsorship began, participation has risen by 25%, and 39,000 children now take part.
There are some special things to look out for this year: the digital Booksorter, a growth in young Summer Reading Challenge volunteers, and some great underpinning partnerships with the media (such as the Times Educational Supplement and CBBC) and education organisations (Ed Scotland, NATE and the Children's University). We're also delighted to have support from some of our very top writers from Mike Rosen to Cressida Cowell, Charlie Higson to Frank Cottrell Boyce. And to top it all, support from the new Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman, as a Reading Agency Ambassador and Summer Reading Challenge Champion.
Children in Scotland will soon be able to sign up to the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge at their local library. Start dates vary so check with your local library. The Challenge launches in England and Wales on 13 July. Children can also sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge website to chat, take part in competitions and find new books using the Booksorter.
If you're a parent you can keep up to date with news from the Summer Reading Challenge by visiting our facebook page.
Librarians can log-in to our resources page to download resources such as logos, training material for staff and activity sheets for children.