Reading during the school holidays really does make a difference!

Over 12 million books borrowed as part of Summer Reading Challenge 2022

As part of World Book Day, The Reading Agency has published findings from an Arts Council England-funded independent evaluation of the 2022 science-themed, Summer Reading Challenge.

The Summer Reading Challenge is run in partnership between The Reading Agency and UK public libraries. Children’s reading can ‘dip’ during the long summer holidays. The Challenge helps get children into libraries each year to keep up their reading enjoyment and confidence, encouraging children aged 4 to 11 to read books during the long summer holiday. In 2022, The Reading Agency saw 723,184 children engaging in over 95% of library authorities across the UK.

The research explored areas including the impact on reading engagement and behaviours and the impact on wellbeing. Participation in the Summer Reading Challenge was found to result in statistically significant change for children who took part compared with those who did not: reading more books, enjoying reading more, and feeling more confident in their reading ability. Participating children and teachers reported several positive impacts on children’s reading engagement and behaviours. Most felt that children were more likely to read after participating in the Challenge because:

  • The Challenge helped them to find books they enjoyed
  • Reading more regularly over the summer increased some children’s reading confidence as they were able to develop their vocabulary and practice reading aloud
  • Children were also inspired to write their own stories and share recommendations with others
  • Children were motivated by rewards and incentives

In the 2022 evaluation, over half of those surveyed stated that their children felt better about themselves through taking part in the Challenge and 75% had improved their reading skills. The annual evaluation findings for 2022 provide overwhelming evidence to suggest that librarians and volunteers engaged in delivering the Challenge played an instrumental part in motivating children to read. 67% of parent/carers strongly agreed or agreed that, because of taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge they used the library more as a family (including digital use and e-lending).

In 2022 the Challenge saw 132,223 new library members which was a 40% increase from pre-pandemic total in 2019 with a total of 12,777,143 books, including eBooks and audio titles, issued through libraries over the summer! Children reported visiting the library as part of the Challenge an exciting opportunity to find new books, going to the library enabled children to identify and pick up new books that they wanted to read.

The Arts Council funded research also found that the Challenge had several positive impacts on children’s wellbeing, providing them with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and reducing the impact of negative or challenging feelings. Children reported a range of positive impacts of the Summer Reading Challenge, and reading more generally, on their wellbeing, including:

Reduced feelings of stress and an increased sense of calmness – many children noted that reading helped them to feel calm and to improve their capacity to manage challenging emotions.

  • Happiness and excitement when reading new books or about new topics
  • A feeling of pride and sense of accomplishment – some children attributed this feeling to tackling difficult books such as chapter books or long books with advanced vocabulary.
  • Developing imagination and creativity through reading – more broadly, reading sparked children’s imagination, as many reported being absorbed in the books they read while completing the Challenge.

One year 6 pupil who took part said: “I like reading a lot, my vocabulary has improved, [I’ve] started to read more books than I used to.”

One Year 4 pupil who took part said: “I love to read because when you get stressed or angry it just helps you to calm down.”

In 2022, library coordinators gifted an additional 67,996 packs to families living with disadvantage, further bolstering the reach and engagement of the Challenge. Libraries worked with a wide range of local organisations to reach specific groups and individuals, increasing engagement with the Challenge and enabling equal opportunity of access. Resources translated into home languages were produced to support public libraries with these targeted activities, events and promotions. In 2022, in response to the large number of Ukrainian children arriving in the UK, three key downloadable Summer Reading Challenge resources were translated into Ukrainian to support Ukrainian families in their area to take part in the Challenge and engage with their local library service.

The Summer Reading Challenge 2022 reach and impact infographic is available to download here.

The Reading Agency

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