I was in Harby in Nottinghamshire last week helping Janet, my local librarian, promote the Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s theme’s a cracker – Creepy House. The illustrations by Chris Riddell are fabulous.
One of Chris Riddell’s illustrations for ‘Creepy House’
I think it’s such a great initiative from the Reading Agency and I gladly give my time for free to support it in any way I can. The challenge encourages children to read six books (any books – poetry, non-fiction etc) over the holidays. In exchange, the children get stickers, badges, wristbands, certificates, medals – incentive overload! The real reward, though, comes from reading the books. Children who read for pleasure, regardless of background, do better socially, academically and emotionally. What’s especially brilliant about the Summer Reading Challenge is that it’s free, encourages library visits and provides a shared experience for families. Win-win! What’s nicer than chatting with your mum, dad, brother, sister, gran or childminder about books you’ve read?
On Friday I’m heading to Ysgol Esgob Morgan where I’m the patron of reading. It’s their last day of term and I’ll be sure to mention the challenge to them, although I probably don’t need to. Last year they achieved 100% participation rate. I think the average is 30 – 50% per school and that’s going some, so 100% is amazing. How come Ysgol Esgob Morgan managed to do that? Apart from them being a brilliant school?
1. Years of linking up with the public library service and engaging with things like Chatterbooks etc
2. Having access to a library, which is ideally placed near the school.
3. They’ve got teachers who are passionate about books as well as parents who encourage a love of reading.
4. My role as patron of reading helped give it that final push, along with the Summer Reading Challenge Cup I took in. The idea of the cup was to present it to the class with the highest completion rate but it had to be shared in 2012 because everyone took part. Result!
Will we do it again? Who knows? But what would be even greater is if more schools had 100% participation in the Summer Reading Challenge – now that really is a trend I’d like to see.
Class 4 with Mr Hatwood at Ysgol Esgob Morgan