The Reading Agency and The Open University’s Teachers’ Reading Challenge returns for 2021

After a hugely successful inaugural year in 2020 that saw over 2,400 people take part, The Teachers’ Reading Challenge will return on Saturday 10th July 2021. The Challenge, delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with The Open University, encourages school and library staff to expand their knowledge of children’s books and develop their understanding of reading for pleasure pedagogy. The Challenge is open to anybody who is a Reader Teacher – including all education professionals, public and school library staff, and trainee teachers.

The Challenge aims to expand its reach this year, with Reader Teachers encompassing Primary, Secondary and Special School Teachers, Headteachers/ Acting Headteachers/ Deputy Headteachers, School and Public Librarians, English Consultants, Learning Support Assistants (LSA)/ Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTA), Curriculum Leaders, Student Teachers, University lecturers working with schools and teachers, Heads of Pastoral Care, Language Teachers, and any other adults working in educational roles with children and young people.

The Teachers’ Reading Challenge aims to increase reading for pleasure habits amongst children and young people. It will run alongside The Reading Agency’s hugely popular Summer Reading Challenge, encouraging teaching staff and librarians to take the Challenge alongside the children. It invites participants to sign up to the digital platform and join a supportive and inspired community of educators and readers to set their summer reading goals, share reviews and recommendations, access resources and their learnings by submitting an example of practice. The latest Childwise report revealed that 1 in 4 5-16-year-olds don’t read for pleasure – while research by The Open University (Cremin et al. 2014) found that reading aloud, independent reading time, book talk and sharing recommendations in a highly social reading environment can help to positively influence children’s attitudes and attainment. School and library staff play an invaluable role in influencing children’s reading journeys, and the Teachers’ Reading Challenge provides the tools, resources, and forum for them to develop and apply their understanding of Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

The newly updated digital platform will include brand new features, such as: A Top 100 Books Review page, where participants will be able to access Reading Teachers’ reviews of the most popular books being read in the Challenge, brand new publisher resources on the Find a Read page, including book extracts, discussion guides and teaching notes, plus opportunities to win sets of books for classes or library users, an updated message board to build Teacher Reader communities, and a refreshed poster, diary and certificate for Reader Teachers to track their reading and celebrate completion. The platform also includes access to the Summer Reading Challenge Book Sorter – all books in the Book Sorter have been added by children who have taken part in the Summer Reading Challenge over the past 8 years, with over 1.3 million books read and logged.

In an effort to reach more children in secondary schools, the 2021 Teachers’ Reading Challenge will also include more resources suitable for children at KS3 and KS4, plus weekly booklists for both younger and older readers. YA titles and books that might also be read by adult readers can now be logged and reviewed, meaning more recommendations for those working with older readers.

The Teachers’ Reading Challenge is also being supported by Sora, the student reading app from OverDrive Education, and Pearson. Pearson will be partnering with The Reading Agency on the Share a Read campaign, asking teachers, parents and young people to share what they are reading this summer – these suggestions will be compiled to create book lists to support the nation’s summer of reading.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“We’re delighted to be launching our second Teachers’ Reading Challenge in partnership with The Open University. Last year’s Challenge showed there is a real appetite in the teaching and library community for a platform to exchange recommendations and provide a fun, collaborative support network. We’re looking forward to welcoming even more Reader Teachers this year, with help from our wonderful partners, sponsors and funders – as well as reaching more secondary age children and young people via the Share A Read campaign.”

The Open University said:

“Teachers’ knowledge of children’s texts is the cornerstone of developing reading for pleasure in schools. Our research indicates it is a key professional responsibility, which, when combined with tailored pedagogy, effectively supports young readers. Our pilot Teachers Reading Challenge in 2020 surpassed all expectations, so our hopes are high for 2021!”

Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Dame Lynne Brindley said:

“The Goldsmiths’ Company is proud to help improve lives through this exciting educational programme which aims to support teachers and schoolchildren alike. Building on the success of last year’s Summer Reading Challenge, aimed at schoolchildren, The Teachers’ Reading Challenge recognises the importance of sharing the pleasure of reading with children and bringing knowledge of children’s literature into the curriculum for a richer and more interactive learning experience. We hope with more direct involvement from teachers, we can help to increase the long-term benefits for children both at home and in the classroom.”

Katy Lewis, Head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson said:

“We’re immensely proud to sponsor this year’s Teachers’ Reading Challenge and join forces with The Reading Agency in our Share a Read campaign. We cannot wait to encourage more Reader Teachers to reconnect with the endless, varied pleasures of children’s books, and will be eagerly supporting them to #ShareARead this summer.

“We all know what a crucial part role models play when it comes to shaping young lives for the better. By diving into diverse reads, and sharing the joy of immersive, imaginative books, Teachers’ Reading Challenge participants can authentically communicate to their pupils just how much possibility, fun and wisdom is to be found in children’s literature today.”

To launch the 2021 Teachers’ Reading Challenge, The Reading Agency and The Open University will be hosting a virtual launch event on Tuesday 6 July. People who took part in last year’s Challenge and those who want to find out more will hear from a panel of educators, librarians, academics and authors about the impact of taking part in the Challenge and the importance of children reading for pleasure. Following a turbulent year for both school and library staff, the event will also focus on the theme of ‘reading and recuperation’ and explore the wellbeing benefits of adults reading books for children. Free tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

Sign up to the Challenge and find out more at

The Reading Agency

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