2014 has been another record year for the Summer Reading Challenge with 839,622 children taking part, a 3.6% increase on participation in 2013. 81,908 children joined the library to take part, up 22.7% from last year and based on the figures supplied from 84% of participating authorities, we estimate that children borrowed over 18,000,000 books during the summer.
The Summer Reading Challenge is the UK's leading reading for pleasure programme for primary aged children; it invites children to read six books during the summer holidays and it runs in 98% of local authorities every summer. The 2014 Challenge, called Mythical Maze and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre, inspired a total of 794,801 children aged 4-11 throughout the UK to take part at their local library. In addition 14,621 under 4s took part using the specially produced Summer Reading Challenge early years material, compared with 6,711 in 2013 and internationally the Challenge reached a further 30,200 children through the British Council (12,200) and in the Republic of Ireland (18,000).
The Summer Reading Challenge also offers young people aged 12-24 the opportunity to volunteer. The volunteers support the children taking part while increasing their employability as they gain useful life skills and confidence. This year a record 8,126 volunteers got involved at their local library, representing a staggering 43% uplift from 2013.
Inspiring children to use libraries
Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency says:
The Summer Reading Challenge has had another fantastic year inspiring children up and down the country to raid the bookshelves of their local libraries; to discover the many different worlds that lie within the pages of books and to share the excitement and joy of their discovery with friends and family. There's really nothing more rewarding than knowing that the Challenge is helping to form the next generation of life-long readers.
The success of the Challenge is a tribute to the hard work and passion of the librarians who make it happen and to the 8,000 young volunteers who have helped to ensure that this year's Challenge has been the biggest to date. 2014 is going to be a hard act to follow but 2015 is already promising to be a record-breaking success.
Janene Cox, Chair of the Summer Reading Challenge strategy group, says:
It's wonderful to see how successful the Summer Reading Challenge has been this year. The success is a result of the commitment from library staff and volunteers who continue to inspire children to take part and read throughout the long summer holidays. Children who take part in the Summer Reading Challenge go on to become fluent and enthusiastic readers and this is something that will last a lifetime.
The power of reading for pleasure
Recent research shows the scale of the literacy problems society faces. A 2013 OECD skills survey showed that England's 16-24 year-olds rank 22nd out of 24 countries in terms of literacy skills. But a 2013 Institute of Education report showed the transformative effect of reading for pleasure.
UKLA research shows that taking part in the Challenge helps prevent the summer dip in literacy skills, which is particularly damaging for disadvantaged children. It also motivates children to read more independently and often, and inspires boys to read outside the classroom. 43% of participants in this year's Summer Reading Challenge were boys, compared with only 1 in 4 boys who read outside class every day.
A parent from Suffolk said:
This challenge has definitely made a difference to my girls' reading. They can't wait to get to the library every few days. They wouldn't have picked up a book this holiday if it wasn't for the challenge! Now I think they will carry on even after it's ended. So thank you very much. At last my children are enjoying books!
Announcing the 2015 theme
Today, The Reading Agency also announces the theme of the Summer Reading Challenge for 2015 - Record Breakers - delivered in collaboration with Guinness World Records in its 60th anniversary year.
Record Breakers will bring together the worlds of fact and fiction challenging young readers to explore some of the astonishing real-life achievements and world records as featured in the Guinness World Records Books as part of their Summer Reading Challenge 2015. Collecting stickers as they go, young readers will discover the weird, wonderful and wacky records from around the world in six different categories: Cool Tech, Way to Go!, The Big Stuff, Animal Magic, Human Touch and Action! Adventure!
Jenny Heller, VP, Publishing, for Guinness World Records commented:
We are absolutely delighted that our partnership with The Reading Agency is supporting children to become confident readers by engaging with educational content that they genuinely enjoy. We know how much children look forward to discovering new Guinness World Records facts and achievements every year, so to bring a record-breaking opportunity to the heart of this reading challenge is an honour for us as we mark our 60th anniversary.
Find out more about the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge headline results
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