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Wiltshire Council libraries launch 'Ready, Set, Read!' Summer Reading Challenge for children

Wiltshire libraries are encouraging families with children aged 4 to 11 to join in the popular and free Summer Reading Challenge from Saturday 15 July, which aims to inspire children to read as much as they can.

Published 4 July 2023
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The challenge, produced by the Reading Agency and delivered by libraries, is to read at least six library books over eight weeks during the summer. There are rewards on offer including various fun prizes throughout the challenge, and a medal and certificate on completion.

To support children taking part in the challenge and to encourage continued book borrowing, from 4 July 2023 Wiltshire Council libraries will no longer be charging fines for the late return of children's books. Existing charges for children's books will also be removed. Wiltshire Council hopes this will particularly help those families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and encourage families to return to the library regularly and borrow books again.

This year's challenge, with the theme 'Ready, Set, Read!', has been developed in collaboration with the Youth Sport Trust and celebrates play and participation, encouraging children to engage in games and sports in any way that best suits them. This year's challenge will also showcase how reading can be active and engaged and can itself involve teamwork and community.

The challenge is a personal one and children can choose any books of their choice and can also read eBooks or listen to audiobooks. For every child this will be different, from a child who is just starting to read, a child who might struggle or a child who is looking to read more widely.

Children can register at Wiltshire Libraries from Saturday 15 July and have until 9 September to complete the challenge. All participants will receive a Ready, Set, Read! folder to keep a record of their reading and for collecting stickers.

This year, the Summer Reading Challenge is also teaming up with Nike and Rebel Girls to give away copies of their new book, Rebel Girls Kick It: World Champions Take the Pitch, and You Can Too. This special, limited-edition book features stories and fun facts alongside original illustrations of 28 Nike athletes, Q&As with coaches and activities to enhance football skills. The books are most suited to children aged between 7 to 12 years old and will be given to children joining the challenge, while stocks last.

Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said: We very much hope that children will once again be inspired to take part in this important and successful programme, proven to make a real difference to children's reading skills and attitudes to reading. Last year, 85% said taking part in the challenge had improved their reading, and we received a lot of great feedback from parents and carers on the impact on their child's reading. 

Through our Business Plan we strive to empower our communities to stay active and ensure children get the best start in life, and the summer reading challenge is one of the many ways we are supporting our communities to thrive in these areas.

I would like to thank all the volunteers and library staff for helping to make this another successful summer of reading, through their support of listening to children's book reviews and reading written reviews, giving out prizes and encouraging children to continue with the challenge.

Last year in Wiltshire, 6,206 children started the challenge, an increase of 39% compared to 2021, and 3,831 completed it, an increase of 52% on the previous year.

Children can also sign up to the challenge online at The Reading Agency: Summer Reading Challenge Marvellous Makers (opens new window). Here, they can use the Book Sorter to discover new books, find fun reading activities and active challenges, play games, watch videos and write book reviews. On each of the sticker sheets they get, children will find a code which can be used to unlock additional Ready, Set, Read! content on the website. A child just needs to sign into their profile and enter the code in the 'Your badges' box.

Children finishing the challenge early or aged up to 16 can continue their reading journey by joining the Story Adventurers' Club at Wiltshire Libraries, a challenge to read 100 books at a pace chosen by the child/young person. As part of the club, children will be given their own booklet to record their reading, and reflect on their reading journey, there are four booklet designs to collect.

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