Summer Reading Challenge

© Dale Cherry 2017 for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Newham Council and Calverton Primary School

© Dale Cherry 2017 for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Newham Council and Calverton Primary School

Every year, thousands of families all over the country are involved in the UK's biggest reading event for children in libraries, the Summer Reading Challenge. 

The challenge is to read six books during the summer holidays. 

A record 3900 children took part in last year's Record Breakers challenge at Derby Libraries and nearly half completed it. 

Libraries in Derby  hosted over 40 events during the summer holidays including puppet shows, performance storytelling and poetry cartoon workshops.

How will the challenge help my child?

  • Research shows that reading for pleasure is one of the most important contributory factors in children’s learning success. 
  • The challenge encourages children to read during the long summer break when their reading skills can decline without the regular reading activity at school.
  • Taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge helps to sustain children’s enthusiasm for reading and prevent the 'summer holiday dip'
  • The combination of creativity, fun activities and reading choice can have a real impact on children’s reading ability, range and motivation, boosting their confidence and leading to a more positive attitude towards learning.
  • Children who enjoy reading are more likely to score highly on reading assessments than those who don't; and those who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers

What’s the theme for 2017?

  • This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is called Animal Agents and is illustrated by the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator Tony Ross.
  • The storyline features a detective agency manned by all kinds of clever animals – furry, scaly and slippery – who are investigating some peculiar happenings at the local library. 
  • From the mystery appearance of graffiti to the strange case of a missing lunch, children can join in the fun by collecting evidence about the main suspect in the form of stickers for their collector card, to help the Animal Agents discover who is behind the mysterious goings on.

How does it work?

  • The challenge is to read six library books during the summer holidays.
  • Everyone who joins receives a full colour concertina fold-up collector card which includes a range of fun activities and space for children to keep track of their progress and rate the books they’ve read.
  • There are six stickers to collect as children read their chosen books; some are scratch and sniff. 
  • Library staff and young volunteers are on hand to talk to children about their reading and there are linked activities to encourage families into libraries throughout the summer. 
  • Children completing the challenge get a certificate and a colourful zip tag featuring artwork from Animal Agents, which can be attached to bags and pencil cases etc                      
  • There’s an extra reward for those who read a further four books.  
  • Children are encouraged to expand their reading by exploring similar themes, fantastic facts, characters and stories across the best contemporary children’s writing.

Who can take part?

  • The challenge is aimed at children aged between four and 11 years.  There are special age appropriate preschool materials for younger siblings to take part as well.

How do children sign up?

  • It’s free to join the challenge.  Children can sign up and get their free Animal Agents collector card wallet at any library in Derby from Saturday 15 July.
  • Children must be a member of the library to take part.  If they haven't got a library card, they can sign up for one; that’s free too.  Just ask the library staff.

What books can children read?

  • They can read any books they like - fact books, stories, joke books, picture books - it's up to them.  Audio books and eBooks count as well! 
  • It’s fine to read or share books together with a parent or carer too. As long as they’re borrowing them from the library, they all count. 

What events can children attend?

  • There will be free Animal Agents events and activities at all libraries throughout the summer holidays including author events with Guy Bass; retellings of Jeremy Strong’s popular story The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog by performance storyteller John Kirk; shows featuring a mix of puppetry, magic, stories and music performed by Quite Remarkable Productions particularly suitable for younger children; animal handling; and crafts. 
  • Children attending must be signed up to the Summer Reading Challenge
  • Full details including dates and venues will be available nearer the time at local libraries and on our events page.

What else can children do?

  • Children and their families can download a free mobile application onto their devices - iPad, iPhone and Androids.  This will recognise Animal Agents graphics and trigger audio visual content including videos, animated messages and simple games.
  • The app can be used to scan the Animal Agents collector card images to launch more games and animations.
  • Children will need to connect to Wi-Fi to download the app and their mobile device must have a camera.
  • More reading ideas and fun themed activities will be available on the Summer Reading Challenge website at

How can younger children get involved?

  • Children aged three years and under can also join the challenge. 
  • They will receive a special membership card featuring age-appropriate activities to do with their parents and carers with spaces for six themed promotional stickers.
  • Like their older siblings, they will collect one sticker for each book they borrow and share with a parent or carer. 
  • Pre-schoolers completing the challenge will receive a certificate and a colourful Animal Agents door hanger.

When does the Challenge end?

  • The challenge ends on Saturday 16 September 2017.

The Reading Agency and Libraries Present Animal Agents Summer Reading Challenge