The Summer Reading Challenge’s ‘Marvellous Makers’ theme celebrates children’s creativity 

Graphic with illustrated children on grass. Text reads: Summer Reading Challenge 2024 delivered in partnership with libraries - Marvellous Makers.

The Reading Agency is excited to announce the theme for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge: Marvellous Makers! Developed in partnership with Create, a leading charity bringing the creative arts to those who need it most, this year’s Challenge aims to fire up children’s imaginations and unleash storytelling and creativity through the power of reading.  

The annual Challenge is delivered in partnership with public libraries, and it’s free to take part. From June to September, children taking part in ‘Marvellous Makers’ can discover new stories, join in with free activities at the library, and explore their creativity – from junk modelling to music, dance to drawing and painting. 

This year’s bespoke illustrations are created by Natelle Quek, celebrated illustrator of titles including Wild Wild Wood (Puffin Books) and I Am Nefertiti (Five Quills). Taking place in libraries and online, the Summer Reading Challenge provides the perfect opportunity for active minds to explore, imagine, and create in a supportive and engaging environment. 

Reading sparks imagination and creativity, helping to expose children to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences that fire up their minds. The Summer Reading Challenge aims to harness these creative thinking skills and build confidence in young readers during the school holiday when they aren’t in the classroom. Participation encourages children to read for pleasure, with books providing knowledge and giving children the tools and confidence to think originally, play with concepts, and express their creativity in unique ways. 

This year’s ‘Marvellous Makers’ theme will inspire children’s inner storytellers, motivating them to be curious and to tell their own stories through various creative outlets. The partnership with Create aims to allow children to understand and appreciate creativity through reading. The partnership will provide a range of exciting activities and resources that bring reading and creativity together, empowering children to become ‘Marvellous Makers’ themselves.  

“The Summer Reading Challenge is all about inspiring children’s creativity and imagination through reading. Developed in partnership with the fantastic charity Create, this year’s theme will spark children’s inner storytellers and makers. Reading fires up young minds, and we’re thrilled to provide a fun, engaging environment for children to explore new ideas and perspectives through books and creative activities over the summer holidays. We are delighted to be working with Blue Peter to encourage even more children to take part this year.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency

“This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to bring creativity to young people across the country. People need to create, and everyone deserves access to the life-enhancing power of the creative arts. ‘Marvellous Makers’ brilliantly combines the joy of reading and the wonder of creativity, providing young people with new opportunities to express themselves. We couldn’t be more excited to be part of it.” 

Nicky Goulder, Founding CEO of Create

Blue Peter will also be encouraging primary school children across the UK to join this year’s Summer Reading challenge on CBBC and iPlayer with creative activities and features from the Blue Peter Book Club. 

The Summer Reading Challenge launches on 22 June in Scotland and online and 6 July in England and Wales.  

A photo of two young children making a tower out of books.

What is the Summer Reading Challenge?

1 in 4 children cannot read well by the age of 11. This hugely limits their life choices and skills. We’re on a mission to change this.  

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to keep reading during the school summer holidays, ensuring they are ready for a great start to the new term in the autumn. Children set a reading goal, choose anything they like to read, and collect rewards for their reading. Children can sign up at their local library or online, and it’s FREE to take part.

In 2023, we teamed up with national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust for Ready, Set, Read!, a sports and games-themed Challenge to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break.  

Who is it for?

The Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at children from 4-11 years old. It supports this age group and their families by:  

  • Preparing children to get back to the classroom in the autumn.  
  • Supporting the move into a new year group or key stage.  
  • Boosting children’s confidence and self-esteem by supporting independent reading. 
  • Providing free access to books and fun family activities during the summer.
Photo of young girl kicking a football on a football pitch while wearing school uniform. There are other school children behind her.

The Summer Reading Challenge is the UK’s biggest reading for pleasure programme for children, and helps get approximately 700,000 children into libraries each year.

In 2023, 75% of children who took part said they now enjoy reading more.

Graphic with stack of books

During the 2023 Challenge, over 14 million books, including eBooks and audio titles, were read and issued through libraries

Four icons of people. One of them is white, while the other three are navy.

1 in 4 children don’t reach the expected level of reading by the age of 11


A photo of two children taking out some books from the library.

Get Involved

In the library 

Visit your local library and sign up. Your child will set a reading goal, choose anything they like to read, and collect special stickers and rewards for their reading. Libraries offer lots of free activities and events throughout the summer.

Online 

Sign up on the official Challenge website to take part online. Children can set a reading goal and get tips for accessing books for free at home. As they read books, they’ll unlock digital rewards, including a printable certificate.  

Email us to find out how your library could deliver the Summer Reading Challenge. 


Volunteering

Help us spread the joy of reading! Contact your local library directly to ask about opportunities to support with this year’s Challenge.

Volunteers at the library can get involved with things like delivering activities for children and families, handing out prizes, and talking to children about their reading.

Please note opportunities and dates vary between libraries.

Are you working towards your DofE Award?

Good news: we’re a DofE Approved Activity Provider, so your Summer Reading Challenge volunteering counts towards the volunteering section of your Duke of Edinburgh’s Award!

Graphic with Duke of Edinburgh logo and text: Approved Activity Provider

Resources

Document Borders – Summer Reading Challenge 2024

Download these funky Marvellous Makers borders to create Summer Reading Challenge posters, activities and resources. All illustrations are by Natelle Quek and © The Reading…

You must be logged in to access this resource

Clip art for Marvellous Makers: Characters (JPEGs)

Download JPEGs of individual characters, created by our brilliant Summer Reading Challenge 2024 illustrator, Natelle Quek. You must credit Natelle Quek wherever you use this…

You must be logged in to access this resource

Clip art for Marvellous Makers: Characters (PNGs)

Download PNGs of individual characters, created by our brilliant Summer Reading Challenge 2024 illustrator, Natelle Quek. You must credit Natelle Quek wherever you use this…

You must be logged in to access this resource

A graphic reads 'Ready, Set. Read!'. There are illustrations of children on either sides of the words, and an illustration of a cat underneath the words.

Summer Reading Challenge: Reach and Engagement 2023

The 2023 Summer Reading Challenge: ‘Ready, Set, Read!’, delivered in partnership with libraries and the Youth Sport Trust, once again brought the fun and benefits of reading to families across the UK.

Browse the latest news and insights from our Summer Reading Challenge.

Summer Reading Challenge 2023

The Reading Agency‘s annual Summer Reading Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. This year, The Reading Agency partnered with Youth Sport Trust for Ready, Set, Read!, a sports and games themed Challenge that kept children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break. The official Summer Reading Challenge book collection offers inspiration in the form of 55 recommended reads that reflect this year’s themes of play, teamwork, and taking part! 

Summer Reading Challenge: Reach and Engagement 2023

We reached 699,208 children through the Summer Reading Challenge in 2023!

The 2023 Summer Reading Challenge: ‘Ready, Set, Read!’, delivered in partnership with libraries and the Youth Sport Trust, once again brought the fun and benefits of reading to families across the UK. We saw fantastic increases in children’s participation and engagement in the Challenge, with more children visiting their local library to take part, as well as more children taking part online.

Participating library branches (3,159) across 92% of library authorities in the UK saw a surge in the number of children’s book loans over the summer, supported by a cross-authority approach to delivery in 34 public libraries. This new partnership model ensured many more children and families living with disadvantage were able to take part, and helped contribute to an increase the number of children’s book loans over the summer.

More children took part in the Challenge than in the previous year

685,821 Children took part in Ready, Set, Read!, including:

  • 635,115 library starters (+4% on 2022)
  • 50,706 online starters (+7% on 2022)

13,387 additional packs were gifted by libraries to foodbanks, schools, HAF providers and others

More children joined their library and read more books during the holiday

  • 133,697 New library members (+42% on our pre-pandemic total in 2019)
  • 329,166 Children received a certificate of completion from their library or completed online (+6% on 2022)
  • 14,084,931 Total books, including eBooks and audio titles, read and issued through libraries (+10% on 2022)

1,106 parents and caregivers told us about the difference the Challenge made to their children who took part…

  • 80% read more over the summer holidays
  • 75% enjoy reading more
  • 72% feel more confident reading
  • 70% improved their reading skills
  • 58% visited the library more as a family
  • 52% felt more relaxed
  • 34% felt more connected to others
  • 43% felt better

Digital Reach

  • 3,706,561 page views and 657,232 visits to the Summer Reading Challenge website
  • 549,936 Total reach of posts on the Summer Reading Challenge Facebook page
  • 10,336 Total engagements with our Facebook posts

“I found the Summer Reading Challenge made me read more books and spend more nights reading books with my Dad. It made me feel relaxed.”

Boy, aged 8-9 years old

“My daughter is not a confident reader and is behind with her reading according to her age. It was great to be able to select books from the library that she felt confident with and to see her pleasure in finally achieving because of her reading.”

Parent/caregiver of girl, aged 6-7 years old

“A great initiative to motivate children to keep reading over the summer and promote library services(…) the activities we run alongside the challenge are the ideal opportunity for them to meet new friends and build their social skills.”

North Tyneside Libraries

Download the document.

The Reading Agency and the Youth Sport Trust invite children on a winter reading adventure

The Reading Agency has today announced that they are teaming up with the Youth Sport Trust again for this year’s Winter Mini Challenge, a free reading adventure. The Challenge encourages children to keep up their reading over the winter holidays and offers rewards and prizes for continuing to read.

Following the success of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, the Winter Mini Challenge will continue to follow the Ready, Set, Read! theme throughout the winter. By taking part online via the Challenge website, children will be able to join this year’s six characters as they head out to have fun on a winter walk.

The characters, illustrated by Loretta Schauer, will get children fired up about games, sport and play, with the Ready, Set, Read! theme of the Challenge aiming to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the winter holiday. Children can log their reads and share reviews on the digital platform and earn rewards for their reading, with many public libraries across the UK offering events and activities which tie into the theme.

During the school holidays, some children experience a ‘dip’ in their reading skills. The Winter Mini Challenge is on a mission to change this by providing a way for children to keep reading for enjoyment outside the classroom. Accompanying resources which can be downloaded through the digital platform will help families and teachers to provide free and fun activities over the holiday.

The Winter Mini Challenge will launch on 1 December and run until 19 February.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “We saw a fantastic response to this year’s sport and games themed Summer Reading Challenge, showing that reading goes hand-in-hand with play in helping children to explore their creativity. We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Youth Sport Trust for this year’s Winter Mini Challenge and hope we’ll fire up the imaginations of children across the country.”

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust: “Following the success of the Summer Reading Challenge, we are delighted to be partnering with the Reading Agency once again on this year’s Winter Mini Challenge! The cold weather and early evenings over the winter can make getting active outdoors challenging, but we hope children and young will be inspired by the games, sport and play themed books selected as part of the Ready, Set, Read Challenge to keep active over the winter holiday.

We know active children are happier, healthier and can even achieve more in the classroom. The Winter Mini Challenge is a brilliant way to inspire children over the winter to keep both minds and bodies active.”

Visit www.wintermini.org.uk for more information.
Follow the latest developments on social media:
@ReadingAgency
#WinterMiniChallenge

For all media enquiries contact [email protected] or call +44(0)7458 303703.

The Summer Reading Challenge and Libraries: Abeeha, Ariba and Aamna’s story Story

We believe reading transforms lives. This Libraries Week, we’re looking at how libraries play a key role in encouraging children to read. We went to Abraham Moss Library in Manchester to hear from children and their families how the Summer Reading Challenge has empowered their reading.

Abeeha’s Story

4 year-old Abeeha lives with her mother, Noreena. This is her first year taking part in the Challenge.

How many books have you read this year and what have you been reading?
Abeeha: Five books already. I’ve read all sorts.

And have you always used the library regularly?
Noreena: Before, I’d go to the town centre to Central Library, because during that time this library was closed. So, when I found out this library had opened, we came right away.
We came inside and she chose her books and Abeeha said, “I want to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge,” because she loves to read. She chooses her own books and she’s read seven this summer.

What has taking part given you as a parent over the summer?
Noreena: You know, sometimes in the summer vacations, the parents still need to do some work so it can be a big challenge for parents. But I focus on her activities, her sports and her books. She just reads herself or I read story and she listens. But now we’ve started the Summer Reading Challenge there is big improvement. She now sees the pictures and makes a story in her mind.

So you see a difference in her imagination?
Noreena: Yeah. When I ask her about the books, she’ll tell me about the shapes and colours and starts making her own stories from the pictures. It’s a big improvement.

Ariba and Aamna’s story

Ariba, Aamna and Faisal live with their mother Aisha in Cheetham Hill.

Is this your first year doing the Summer Reading Challenge? What do you think about the theme this year?
Aisha: They’ve been taking part every summer for about four or five years now, ever since they started reading.
Aamna: I like the theme because sports is fun and good for getting people to read.

And what do you like about being in the library?
Ariba: I like being in the library because there’s lots of books and there’s fun activities that I can do. I get to come and read new books. I love reading and I love being challenged.
Aisha: My children, they love reading. Because of Covid, they closed the bigger library and they were very upset, because the smaller library a lot less books. When this library [Abraham Moss Library] opened, they were so excited to come the first day and they were like, “yay, new books!”

The Summer Reading Challenge actually helped them a lot to stay motivated because they know they’re going to get the certificate if you read a set amount of books.
Aamna is so excited to get the certificate and the medal. Every year she gets it, but every single time she gets new one, she gets more excited. Even though she has loads of medals at home. But every year is a different year.

Has the Challenge helped them to try new kinds of books?
Aisha: Yes, it helps them to try different books. They try small books and big books and then review them – some they find very boring and others they say are amazing. It challenges them.

Each year the Summer Reading Challenge motivates over 700,000 children of all abilities to read for enjoyment over the summer holidays. If you would like to support us in helping more children to discover the joy of reading, you can donate here.

Photo of young children and adults sat on a library floor looking at books.

What is the Winter Mini Challenge?

A great confidence booster! The Winter Mini Challenge is a fun online challenge that encourages children to keep up their reading across December – February.  

It’s free to take part on wintermini.org.uk, where children can collect rewards for logging and reviewing books. Whatever your interest, it all counts.  

Unlock special badges and earn a certificate of achievement once you meet your reading goal!  

More than 6000 children took part in the Winter Mini Challenge in 2023. 

More than 23,500 books were read during the 2023 Challenge.  

More than 23,500 books were read during the 2023 Challenge

More than 6,000 children took part in the Winter Mini Challenge in 2023


Four children sat looking at a book and wearing school uniform.

Get involved online

Children can take part on the official Challenge website. They’ll find lots of fun things there, including book recommendations, activity sheets, games, videos, and reading tips!  

The Winter Mini Challenge runs online from December to February but many libraries run free activities and events throughout the year. Ask the librarian when you go into your library to borrow your books.  


Resources

Document Borders – Summer Reading Challenge 2024

Download these funky Marvellous Makers borders to create Summer Reading Challenge posters, activities and resources. All illustrations are by Natelle Quek and © The Reading…

You must be logged in to access this resource

Clip art for Marvellous Makers: Characters (JPEGs)

Download JPEGs of individual characters, created by our brilliant Summer Reading Challenge 2024 illustrator, Natelle Quek. You must credit Natelle Quek wherever you use this…

You must be logged in to access this resource

Clip art for Marvellous Makers: Characters (PNGs)

Download PNGs of individual characters, created by our brilliant Summer Reading Challenge 2024 illustrator, Natelle Quek. You must credit Natelle Quek wherever you use this…

You must be logged in to access this resource

Latest News

We’ve extended the Winter Mini Challenge!

The Reading Agency are so pleased to see so many young readers getting involved in the Winter Mini Challenge that we have decided to extend the challenge until Sunday 20 February 2022.

Join the new Blue Peter Book Club!

Blue Peter has today unveiled a new Book badge, designed by one of the UK’s best-known illustrators, Sir Quentin Blake.

The Blue Peter Book badge will be awarded to children aged 5-15 who send in their thoughts on a book, draw a character or scene and share which other books and writers they love.

Getting kids excited about great books has always been important for Blue Peter and so, as well as launching the new badge, they have teamed up with The Reading Agency and BBC Arts to bring viewers a monthly Book Club jam-packed with fantastic stories. Each month, presenters will showcase a new book and be joined by young readers to talk about the incredible stories, new worlds and fascinating characters they discover.

In the studio for the launch is author and BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James along with his co-author Chris Smith.

Greg James & Chris Smith say: “We are absolutely honoured to be launching this brand-new Blue Peter badge, designed by one of own children’s book heroes, the marvellous Sir Quentin Blake. Reading is a superpower, and we know the Blue Peter Book Club and Book badge are going to inspire children across the country to put on their capes and pick up a book. We certainly know how excited we were to get our own Blue Peter badges – so it’s brilliant there is now a badge dedicated to reading, to show children just how important it is.”

Sir Quentin Blake says: “Reading can take you to amazing places.”

Sarah Muller, BBC Children’s Senior Head of Children’s Commissioning 7+, says: “We know lots of our Blue Peter audience love books, we want to tap into that passion and inspire even more children to join us on this epic reading adventure. We are trying to reach everyone and inspire a love of reading that will last a lifetime.”

In partnership with The Reading Agency, an expert panel of librarians, booksellers and children in library sessions, Blue Peter have chosen a list of Book Club recommended reads from awesome authors and fantastic illustrators.

The Blue Peter Book Club recommended reads are:

  • Michael the Amazing Mind-Reading Sausage Dog by Terrie Chilvers and illustrated by Tim Budgen (Firefly Press)
  • Finding Her Feet by Eve Ainsworth and illustrated by Luna Valentine (Barrington Stoke, Harper Collins)
  • The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent and illustrated by Selom Sunu (Farshore, Harper Collins)
  • Juniper Mae: Knight of Tykotech City written and illustrated by Sarah Soh (Flying Eye, Nobrow)
  • Poems Aloud: an anthology of poems to read out loud by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett (Wide Eyed Editions, Quarto Publishing Group)
  • Am I Made of Stardust? by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and illustrated by Chelen Ecija (Buster Books, Michael O’Mara Books)

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency says: “The Reading Agency is delighted to be collaborating with the Blue Peter team to get their viewers excited about reading. Thank you to our library and bookseller partners for helping us to create this list, which has something for everyone.”

Working with BBC Bitesize, BBC Arts, CBBC HQ and The Reading Agency, Blue Peter aims to introduce young readers to new writing and encourage a love of reading. BBC Arts will support the Blue Peter Book Club by bringing the books to life through animation, BBC Bitesize Primary will support the Blue Peter Book Club by creating companion guides to the books for Key Stage 2 children aged 7-9, whilst CBBC HQ will showcase writing, drawings and comments sent in by children from all over the UK.

Stephen James-Yeoman, Commissioning Executive from BBC Arts says: “Introducing children to books and reading for pleasure at an early age can help establish a life-long love of great writing. Exciting stories can become like best friends which stay with you and support you through life. I’m thrilled that BBC Arts is able to support Blue Peter’s wonderful new book club, in partnership with The Reading Agency, BBC Bitesize and CBBC HQ and a huge thanks to Sir Quentin Blake for designing a fantastic new badge.”

The Blue Peter Book badge will join the Quentin Blake archive which will eventually be shown at the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, opening in Clerkenwell in 2025. Sir Quentin was pleased to create the artwork because the badge is part of an initiative to encourage reading.

There are now nine types of Blue Peter badge – Blue, Silver, Green, Sport, Purple, Orange, Gold, Music and Book. For more information about Blue Peter badges and how to collect them visit bbc.co.uk/bluepeter

Blue Peter is a BBC Studios Kids & Family Production for CBBC. Presented by Abby, Joel, Mwasky and Henry the Dog, new episodes of Blue Peter are on CBBC and BBC iPlayer every Friday from 5pm.

New Summer Reading Challenge Model sees dramatic increases in children’s library membership

Our new report summarises findings from the second year of the cross-authority pilot model of the Summer Reading Challenge. Run by The Reading Agency and delivered by public libraries, the Summer Reading Challenge aims to address the summer reading dip by encouraging 4-11-year-olds to read over the holidays.

In 2021 and 2022, we piloted a new model involving partnerships between libraries and other local authority teams, including education and public health. The goal was to extend the reach and impact of the Challenge for children living with disadvantage and those likelier to experience setbacks with their reading. The new evaluation report by Renaisi, supported with funding from Arts Council England, looked at results from 30 pilot areas in 2022 to identify effective approaches.

Key findings show:

The cross-authority model increased participation and engagement with the library service across pilot areas, and was effective in reaching pupils living with disadvantage as well as those who had not taken part in the Summer Reading Challenge in the past.

  • Over 212,000 children took part across pilot sites – a 29% increase from 2021 and an 11% increase from 2019 (pre-pandemic)
  • The proportion of boys participating in pilot sites was higher than in 2021 and 2019
  • Nearly 47,000 children became new library members – a 94% increase from 2019
  • The average number of new library members per pilot site (1,552) was three times the average across non-pilot areas (486)
  • Children read more books, felt more confident reading and enjoyed reading more, reflecting 2021 evaluation findings of statistically significant changes for children who took part in the Challenge compared with those who did not take part
  • 68% of surveyed schools agreed that the Challenge reached pupils living with disadvantage and 60% agreed that the Challenge had engaged pupils who had not taken part in the past

The report found that common barriers to reading engagement included parents’ own confidence with reading or a lack of awareness of local library services.

Through targeted outreach through schools and holiday programs, the Summer Reading Challenge successfully engaged disadvantaged groups, and pilot areas that were able to give all children automatic library membership increased uptake by bringing families into libraries. Partnerships formed between libraries and holiday activity providers also enabled access to the Challenge in wider familiar settings.

Some recommendations which came from the report for those delivering the Summer Reading Challenge included building on existing relationships and having strong data sharing agreements in place. The evidence also shows that helping libraries to share best practice and providing tailored resources also boosted delivery and uptake.

This strong evidence behind the cross-authority model in engaging children living with disadvantage will help us to shape plans from 2024 onwards as we focus on a wider rollout. We’re delighted that this pilot demonstrates how cross-sector collaboration and innovative approaches can promote reading and literacy.

Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge here.

The Reading Agency

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