My eldest son is approaching 15. Every summer holiday of his primary school education we’d take part in the local library reading challenge. I had a break of about 3 years where he preferred to read his chosen books outside of the challenge, finding it a little too young for him, but now my youngest son is 5 and has completed his first year in primary school, I get to enjoy The Summer Reading Challenge all over again!
We are already members at our library in Penge. If you’re not a member of your local library, I highly recommend signing up (usually you just need proof of address but do check beforehand) as it then means you can access things like The Summer Reading Challenge, classes and clubs (ours offers children’s crafts and Lego build sessions to name but a few) as well as a wealth of books, graphic novels, digital media and internet/printing facilities. Our library also has a really nice chill out/comfy zone to have a coffee and watch the world go by next to huge windows and is also a Pokéstop. So basically, win.
So, what is the summer reading challenge?
The official website says:
“The Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays. You can sign up at your local library, then read six library books of your choice to complete the challenge. There are exclusive rewards to collect along the way, and it’s FREE to take part!”
On signing up, we got given a fold out card full of snippets of information about the characters in this year’s challenge: Animal Agents. The aim of the challenge is to find out which suspect has been breaking the law by stealing a fish! After reading each book (we chose to do two at a time), you pop back to your library and your child tells the challenge rep all about their book.
As some of you may know, Sullivan has Autism and can really struggle with communication sometimes, especially when explaining things or talking to new people but the lovely staff in Penge library made it so easy and such a pleasure for Sullivan to tell them in his own special way about the books we’d read.
For each book your child has read, you’re given a sticker to fit into your fold out card. These act as clues to help you eventually find out who the thief is. Two of these stickers we found to be scratch and sniff stickers! This took me right back to my childhood, watching Andi Peters in the broom cupboard, with my 3D glasses pressed to my little face, desperately smelling stickers to see what curious aroma Edd The Duck’s hair had.
When your child has finished their 6th book, the challenge has been completed! You get your final sticker to find out which suspect is the dirty rotten scoundrel and your child also receives a great quality medal and personalised certificate. My son felt such a sense of pride in finishing this reading challenge. He loves reading so it wasn’t really an effort to encourage him to join in with this summer activity but for those with children who may be wary of books for various reasons, this could be a really fun way of introducing reading and regular library visits.
On each visit to our library, we also got to do a themed activity such as a character hunt, word searches/drawing sheets, and join in with a finger-painting competition. The focus was very much on fun, creativity and exploration. There were no limits as to which books you could take out or indeed how long we could hang around for.
I highly recommend popping along to your local library to investigate the Summer Reading Challenge as there’s still time, especially for younger children, to join in and complete the challenge. There’s no official end date however I suspect most libraries will be phasing it out around the 2nd week of children returning back to school.
Let me know below if you’re currently enjoying or have completed Animal Agents this year!