Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, is supporting this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, which launches on 14th July.

The Summer Reading Challenge is a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK. All primary school children are encouraged to take part, and all children need to do is to head to their local library – all Essex Libraries and mobile libraries are participating, and the scheme runs until 1st September.

Participants will need to read at least six library books over the summer, and in doing so will collect stickers – the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is Mischief Makers; celebrating the 80th anniversary of the much-loved comic, Beano. Children will also be given a colourful collector’s map of Beanotown to keep a record of their reading journey, which will help them crack the clues and help Dennis, Gnasher and friends find the buried treasure!

Children can also use the special website to create a profile, chat about books, and get help on what to read next, via the digital Book Sorter, which already offers over 600,000 peer to peer children’s book recommendations in child-friendly categories.

Last year, the Summer Reading challenge got three quarters of a million children borrowing, reading and talking about their favourite books. Research has shown that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background, and that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers. The Summer Reading Challenge builds confidence and independent reading, while helping to prevent the dip in children’s reading levels during the long summer break from school.

The Summer Reading Challenge reaches children and young people of all ages. For pre-schoolers there is a mini-challenge, while young people (aged 13 to 24) can volunteer and support younger children taking part, as part of The Reading Agency’s Reading Hack programme.  Volunteering provides a quality workplace experience for young people in libraries, inspires them to think about their future career and increases their employability as they gain useful life skills and confidence. Last year over 7,500 young people across the UK volunteered.

Giles attended an event in Parliament on 20th June, to help raise awareness of this important scheme. During the event, he was also asked to take away several children’s books, which he will be donating to Frinton Library, so that Summer Reading Challenge participants can enjoy them.

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said:

“At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. Mischief Makers offers intergenerational appeal and we hope this family friendly, accessible theme will inspire more children than ever to read over the holidays and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond."

Mark Freeman, President of Libraries Connected, said:

“The Summer Reading Challenge is one of the highlights of the year in libraries. Encouraging children to read over the summer holidays helps them to see reading as a fun way to spend their time and now they can get tips on creating a bit of mischief too! Just as exciting is giving young people the opportunity to volunteer and support the challenge in libraries. We are so pleased at Libraries Connected to continue our partnership with The Reading Agency and look forward to welcoming even more children into our libraries this summer.”

Giles Watling MP said:

“I hope parents, grandparents and carers in Clacton will take their children to their local library over the summer to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.  My daughters have always found great benefit in their reading skills, and this scheme is free, inclusive and, most importantly, makes reading fun.  Last year 37,040 children in Essex took part. I hope we can increase that number this year and remind local libraries what a valuable asset they are to us and our community.”