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Go wild for reading at your local library with the Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge!

Wiltshire Council Libraries are encouraging families to take part in this year's wild-themed Summer Reading Challenge which aims to inspire children to read as much as they can.

Published 14 July 2021
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Wiltshire Council Libraries are encouraging families to take part in this year's wild-themed Summer Reading Challenge which aims to inspire children to read as much as they can.

The challenge encourages 4 to 11 year olds to read six or more library books (including eBooks) during the summer holidays and receiving rewards along the way.

The simple and fun Summer Reading Challenge is produced annually by the Reading Agency and delivered by Wiltshire Council libraries. The challenge is the perfect summer activity to build young readers' skills and confidence during the long break from school and will support reading catch-up after a difficult year.

This year, the Reading Agency has partnered with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) to create 'Wild World Heroes', inspiring children to take action for nature and the environment as part of an exciting adventure in the fictional town of 'Wilderville'. Through reading books, collecting rewards and learning all about the planet, participants will help the Heroes make Wilderville a greener place to live.

The free challenge will run from Saturday 10 July until Saturday 4 September. Packs of materials, including a map of Wilderville and stickers, can be picked up from libraries from 10 July, while stocks last. From Monday 2 August, and once children have read their six library books, they can collect their gold medal and certificate from their local library.

Children can read whatever books they like for the challenge (they don't have to be part of the theme), libraries have a huge range to choose from and staff can help families find suitable books if needed. Wiltshire Council's eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines page also has an extensive list of e-reading materials.

Children will need a library card to take part in the challenge and to borrow books, for more information on joining the library and all Wiltshire library services visit Libraries.

This year, some aspects of the challenge will be run slightly differently to maintain COVID-19 safety measures. A few of the changes include: libraries not being able to listen to the children talk about their books, the core materials being handed out in bags, and libraries will be encouraging families to visit at the quieter times such as afternoons as there may be queues.

In 2019, when the council last ran the challenge in Wiltshire libraries, 5,928 children completed the challenge and 39,321 books were read in total, with 77% of participants said the challenge had improved their reading.

One parent fed back: "[My seven year old boy] has really enjoyed the reading challenge. He is having reading interventions at school and I think this has really helped his confidence. Thank you for making my little boy smile and enjoy his reading through the summer."

If they prefer, children will also be able to take part in the challenge at Wild World Heroes (opens new window), where they will also find games, competitions, book recommendations and much more to inspire them.

Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Libraries said: "We look forward to welcoming many children and families into our libraries over the summer to take part in this wonderful initiative. As well as being great fun it also encourages children to improve their reading skills, which will benefit them on their return to school. Developing reading for pleasure also supports good mental health, particularly important after the last year, so I hope we will see lots of children in libraries this summer."

Steve Backshall, Ambassador for the challenge, said: "I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for Wild World Heroes, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure - it's never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays. Wild World Heroes is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues! Happy Summer of Reading!"

Schools Minister Nick Gibb, said: "Reading is a cornerstone of children's education and a key skill for developing their language and vocabulary. After the impact of the pandemic on young people, this year's Summer Reading Challenge is more timely than ever, and a great opportunity for children to discover the joy of reading while building knowledge of vital environmental issues."

A range of partners are supporting the Summer Reading Challenge this year. Sky VIP are teaming up with The Reading Agency to offer thousands of VIP customers the chance to win a copy of Shark Seas by Sky presenter and Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador Steve Backshall. Customers will be invited to start their Summer Reading Challenge journey with Steve's book at participating Wiltshire libraries, and can head to the My Sky app to find out more. The Challenge is also being supported by Pearson (sponsoring the digital platform's School Zone) and Overdrive Education (sponsoring the digital platform's Home Zone).

To find out more and take part in the challenge, people can visit Summer Reading Challenge.

In addition to the Summer Reading Challenge, Wiltshire libraries will also be running the 'Climate action footprint challenge': a series of fun mini-challenges including recycling, keeping fit and saving energy. Participants who complete these challenges will be entered into a the prize draw, with a chance to win prizes kindly donated by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Tesco.

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