This year I am supporting a campaign run by charity The Reading Agency to encourage all primary school children to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, which launches across England and Wales on Saturday 14 July.

I hope parents, grandparents and carers in Ilford South will take their children to the library over the summer to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.  It’s free, inclusive and, most importantly, makes reading fun. This year I’m donating two books to Redbridge Central Library, “I Really Want the Cake” by Simon Philip and Lucia Gaggiotti, and “Kick” by Mitch Johnson. Last year 3756 children in Redbridge took part in the Summer Reading Challenge and I hope we can increase that number this year and remind local libraries what a valuable asset they are to us and our community.

Research shows that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background and that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers. The Summer Reading Challenge builds confidence and independent reading, while helping to prevent the dip in children’s reading levels during the long summer break from school.

The Summer Reading Challenge, a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK, last year got over three quarters of a million children borrowing, reading and talking about their favourite books.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is Mischief Makers; celebrating the 80th anniversary of the much-loved comic, Beano.

To take part in the Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a colourful collector’s map of Beanotown to keep a record of their reading journey. As children read at least six library books over the summer, they will collect stickers which will help them crack the clues and help Dennis, Gnasher and friends find the buried treasure!

Children can use the special website mischief-makers.org.uk to create a profile, chat about books, and get help on what to read next, via the digital Book Sorter which already offers over 600,000 peer to peer children’s book recommendations in child-friendly categories.

The Summer Reading Challenge reaches children and young people of all ages. For pre-schoolers there is a mini-challenge while young people (aged 13 to 24) can volunteer and support younger children taking part, as part of The Reading Agency’s Reading Hack programme.  Volunteering provides a quality workplace experience for young people in libraries, inspires them to think about their future career and increases their employability as they gain useful life skills and confidence. Last year over 7,500 young people across the UK volunteered.

For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge including how to get involved and resources for schools, go to www.readingagency.org.uk/summerreadingchallenge

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