Rosie Jones, Radzi Chinyanganya, Beth Tweddle MBE, Dr Alex George, Ellie Robinson MBE and Sam Squiers are amongst the stellar line up of Summer Reading Challenge Champions for 2023!

Books by Julia Donaldson, Joe Wicks and Viv French, Oti Mabuse, Bear Grylls, Phil Earle, Clare Balding and Joseph Coelho selected for the ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ Summer Reading Challenge book collection focused on games, sport and play.

The Reading Agency and children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust today announced an impressive line-up of Champions for the Summer Reading Challenge 2023 which this year takes a sporting theme: Comedian and children’s author Rosie Jones; TV presenter and author Radzi Chinyanganya; Gold-medal winning Olympian gymnast Beth Tweddle MBE; A&E doctor and TV personality Dr Alex George; Paralympic swimmer Ellie Robinson MBE and sports journalist Sam Squiers .

Now in its 24th year, over the summer holidays from June to September, children across the UK will be encouraged to get reading by taking part in the free Summer Reading Challenge.

Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11 and that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.

With an exciting theme around games, sports and play the partnership between The Reading Agency and the Youth Sport Trust aims to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break, empowering young people to forge new connections with others and unleash the power of play, sport and physical activity through reading.

They will join a superstar team of characters and their marvellous mascots as they navigate a fictional summer obstacle course brought to life with illustrations by children’s writer and illustrator Loretta Schauer. They will be rewarded for their reading with free incentives including stickers.

The list of books selected for the official Challenge booklist includes numerous and varied options from picture books and early readers to middle grade titles by leading authors and illustrators, including: Joseph Coelho, Radzi Chinyanganya, Julia Donaldson, Joe Wicks and Viv French, Sam Squiers, Oti Mabuse, Bear Grylls, David Baddiel, Clare Balding and Rosie Jones amongst many others. The full list can be viewed here.

The Summer Reading Challenge shines a light on the power of public libraries as a hub for local communities and will bring together the benefits of sport, play and creativity. This year, the Challenge officially begins in Scotland on 24 June and England and Wales on 8 July.

Comedian and children’s author, Rosie Jones, said: “I’m so thrilled to be part of the Summer Reading Challenge. When I was younger I would spend the entire summer holidays reading every book I could get my hands on and I loved it! It’s so important to encourage reading out of school too. It keeps kids mentally active and able to access other worlds, magical kingdoms and wonderfully weird places. Here’s to more reading for everybody!”

TV presenter and author, Radzi Chinyanganya, said: “I am so excited to be championing the Summer Reading Challenge this year. Reading can be life-changing, and I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with the Youth Sport Trust for this year’s very special play and sport themed ‘Ready Set Read!’, to help keep children stay physically and mentally active over the summer. It’s great to see libraries across the country hosting so many fun activities over the holidays which show that physical activity and creativity go hand in hand!”

Olympic gymnast, Beth Tweddle MBE, said: “This is such a great way to encourage children and young people to stay fit and stimulated over the summer. I’m honoured to be a Summer Reading Challenge Champion and can’t wait for the activities to begin.”

A&E doctor and TV personality, Dr Alex George, said: “As a passionate advocate for the positive impacts of both physical movement and reading on our mental health, I couldn’t be more excited about the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. I hope children around the UK will enjoy taking part and keeping their minds and their bodies happy and healthy over the summer holidays whilst reaping the benefits of reading for pleasure.”

Paralympic swimming champion, Ellie Robinson MBE, said: “I’m super excited to be involved with the Summer Reading Challenge. Sport and a good book were two massively important things which made me happy and filled my childhood holidays so I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than being a Champion this year. Ready Set Read!”

Through the partnership, the Youth Sport Trust has developed fun family activity cards, which alongside the official 2023 Summer Reading Challenge book collection, aim to keep young people’s imaginations and bodies moving over the school holidays. The Challenge and activity cards will be available to access through the online digital platform from 24 June, to allow those with limited physical access to the library to join in. By participating in the Challenge, young people will have the opportunity to explore new reading material, develop skills, and discover new interests.

The Youth Sport Trust will also be piloting active equipment packs in five libraries across the UK. These packs will be available for families to borrow alongside books for their Challenge. The equipment packs will include hard copies of the activity cards and basic sports equipment to support families to be active, irrespective of space and cost barriers. Details of libraries participating in the equipment pilot will be available through the digital platform.

The Challenge and its sport and play themed book collection will show that imagination can unlock endless possibilities, and libraries are where this starts.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, said: “We’re delighted that summer is approaching, and we have the support of such an outstanding team of Summer Reading Challenge Champions this year! We hope that the accompanying booklist will inspire children visiting their local public library across the UK and look forward to continuing to work closely with our library partners, schools, community groups, parents and carers to ignite imaginations this summer.”

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “During the summer holidays children’s reading, activity levels and what we refer to as ‘physical literacy’ can reduce, meaning children can lose fitness, and physical confidence. This is why we are so delighted to partner with the Summer Reading Challenge this year. We can’t wait to see how children take on the theme of ‘Ready Set Read’. Through our recent research we know almost half of parents (48%) significantly underestimate how active their little ones need to be by at least 30 minutes a day. This campaign and the champions involved will bring together the enjoyment and imagination of reading and play and help to support families over the summer to develop reading skills and healthy active habits for life.”

For all media enquiries, please contact:

Joel Ivory-Harte
Senior Communications Manager
XXIV Communications
[email protected]
07967 293452

The Reading Agency

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