Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency and Libraries present Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge 2020 -

Illustrations © Laura Ellen Anderson 2020

Join the Silly Squad this summer as the Summer Reading Challenge goes digital!

The Summer Reading Challenge is an annual event aimed at 4 – 11 year olds. Children are encouraged to read six (or more) books of their choice during the summer holidays with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge.

This year, while libraries in Derby and across the country stay closed with the disruption caused by Covid-19, the challenge is moving online.  It runs from June to September, encouraging children to keep reading over the summer and supporting parents and carers with children learning at home.

The Silly Squad, Summer Reading Challenge 2020 officially launches on Friday 5 June with the virtual Let’s Get Silly programme supported by leading children’s authors and guest celebrities, running from the Summer Reading Challenge’s Facebook page

This year we are launching six weeks of fun videos online, ideal for families while we get our libraries ready for re-opening. View the video schedule here.

How will the Challenge help my child?

  • Reading for pleasure is one of the most important contributory factors in children’s learning success. 
  • 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
  • Taking part in the Challenge helps children become confident and enthusiastic readers and supports their learning at school.
  • It keeps children actively reading over the summer, supporting the move between year groups and stages
  • It encourages children to become more independent in their reading, helping them develop an identity as a reader
  • It offers families something fun to do together creating stronger bonds
  • Reading for pleasure also supports mental wellbeing, boosting children’s confidence and self-esteem, more important than ever during this time

What’s the theme for 2020?

  • The theme for the Challenge is “Silly Squad” – a celebration of funny books, happiness and laughter.
  • The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and get stuck into all different kinds of funny books.
  • The Challenge features bespoke artwork from award-winning children's author and illustrator, Laura Ellen Anderson, who you’ll know from amazing reads like Amelia Fang and Evil Emperor Penguin!

How does it work?

  • The Silly Squad website features a free safe sign-up process with a personal profile area where children can set reading goals, review books and view book recommendations. 
  • Children can stick with the traditional challenge to read six books or choose their own target
  • There are themed activities, games and quizzes as well as rewards and incentives to collect, including online badges, games and videos with unlockable content and new things to enjoy each week.
  • Everyone who completes their challenge receives a free downloadable certificate

Who can take part?

  • The Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at children aged from 4 to 11 years and is designed for all reading interests and abilities
  • Younger children can also join. 

How do children sign up?

  • Joining in with the Summer Reading Challenge is easy and free. 
  • Children can sign up and create their own profile at from Friday 5 June.

What books can children read?

  • They can read anything that makes them happy – whether stories, information about something they love, picture books, poetry or jokes - in digital, audio or print format.  Sharing a book with a parent or carer is fine as well.
  • Derby Libraries is supporting the scheme by making a wide range of children’s books available digitally, as eAudiobooks and eBooks, for young library members.  More information about the e-library service and how to get started can be found here. 
  • If your child isn't a member of the library service, sign them up for free temporary membership to give them access to the eLibrary. You can convert their membership to full when the libraries reopen.  Click here to find out more about how to join.  

What events can children attend?

  • This year we are launching six weeks of fun online events, ideal for families while we get our libraries ready for re-opening.


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Every weekday from Monday 20 July to Friday 28 August, Derby Libraries will be showing engaging online videos that are all free to watch at home. With humorous readings from John Kirk, exciting performances and crafts from AVP theatre, and storytelling from Alison Solomon, there is a host of events to inspire your children to get reading this summer. The Summer Reading Challenge brings families together through reading, and these events promise to enthuse and widen children’s reading choices throughout these holidays.

John Kirk has become a firm favourite with family audiences in Derby Libraries over the past few years. He is a performance storyteller who brings stories to life in fresh and imaginative ways, engaging children with his voice and facial expressions. Well-known for his humorous retellings of stories, he will be performing traditional fairy tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and The Gingerbread Man.

Join AVP Theatre for a mixture of folk and original tales from storyteller, Amy, and her wonderful cast of puppets. AVP Theatre create their own puppets and specialise in family-friendly theatre performances. Each show will be accompanied by a mini ‘making video’ showing you how to make one of the puppets from the performance, and a second video with instructions on making a puppet theatre. You can also download and colour in outlines for making the puppets as well. 

Another favourite, local storyteller Alison Solomon, will be retelling one of Aesop's most loved fables, The Ant and the Grasshopper. She first worked with Derby Libraries when she devised and presented a Jamaican poetic storytelling performance as part of Pear Tree Library Centenary in 2016. Since then she has performed as part of Derby Poetry Festival and entertained school groups visiting Normanton Library as part of its launch celebrations last year.

Watch the events online