This year the theme is ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ and delivered in partnership with public libraries, the Challenge will empower young people to forge new connections with others and unleash the power of play, sport and physical activity through reading.
Children are challenged to get reading over the summer holidays. From July to September children can take part for free, receive incentives and join a superstar team and marvelous mascots as they navigate a fictional summer obstacle course brought to life with illustrations by children’s illustrator Loretta Schauer.
Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:
“We know for too many children reading and physical activity levels fall during the summer school holidays, setting them back in terms of literacy and physical development. This is why as a national children’s charity, we are delighted to be partnering with the Summer Reading Challenge this year. We are working together to bring brilliant and imaginative stories to life through movement.
“There is an exciting growing body of research which shows physically active children achieve higher levels of academic attainment than their less physically active peers. Movement plays an important part in brain function. Not only that, but physical activity supports better health and wellbeing, and we know healthy and happy children achieve more.
“Attitudes towards physical activity in childhood track into adulthood so it’s hugely important we give all young people a positive experience, and recognise the contribution sport, play, and physical activity make in helping young people to learn and develop physically, socially and emotionally.”
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. The Youth Sport Trust has developed fun family activity cards, which alongside the official 2023 Summer Reading Challenge book collection, will aim to keep imaginations moving over the school holidays. The Challenge and activity cards are available to access through the online digital platform (summerreadingchallenge.org.uk) to allow those with limited physical access to a 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.
This year, the Youth Sport Trust is also piloting active equipment packs in five libraries across the UK. These packs will be available for families to borrow alongside books from the 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 Summer Reading Challenge has been running since 1999 and helps to prevent the summer reading ‘dip’ that many young people experience during their summer holidays while schools are closed.
With the help of local libraries, the Summer Reading Challenge is accessible to all and provides a fun, free activity for children. In 2022, it reached 723,184 children and families across the UK, with 608,015 children taking part through their local library service, a 31% increase compared to 2021. The Challenge also drove 132,223 new children’s library memberships which is 40% higher than the 2019 pre-pandemic total.
Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency, said:
“We are really delighted to be partnering with the Youth Sport Trust for this year's Summer Reading Challenge. Building on the successes of last year and the significant increase in library sign-ups, we can see there is real demand from families to have in-person activity to get involved in over the holiday. This year’s ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ theme provides the perfect opportunity to get children together to have fun and enjoy the power of reading.”
For more information, visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk. Sign-ups for the online Summer Reading Challenge open in June 2023. The Challenge launches in public libraries on 24 June (Scotland) and 8 July (England/Wales).