Summer Reading Challenge

Books and reading for children and young people

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. 

Over 3,500 children took part in last year's Animal Agents challenge at Derby Libraries with almost 2000 adults and children attending the supporting programme of family events.

This year will focus on mischief and pranks inspired by and celebrating the 80th anniversary of the much-loved iconic children’s comic title Beano.  All libraries in Derby, including those which are community managed, will be running the Challenge throughout the summer holidays.

Summer Reading Challenge, Photos © Dale Cherry for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Idea Store Watney Market

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 2018?

  • This year's Summer Reading Challenge is Mischief Makers; celebrating the 80th anniversary of the much-loved children's comic, Beano.
  • Children taking part in the Challenge will follow clues to explore their colourful collector’s map of Beanotown; meeting Dennis, Gnasher and friends along the way.  As they read library books, they will collect special stickers to help them find the mysterious buried treasure!
  • Mischief Makers will celebrate adventure, friendship, reading and fun and is a must for all children who want to live in the moment and be themselves.

How does it work?

  • The challenge is to read six library books during the summer holidays.
  • Everyone who joins receives a die-cut bookmark featuring a character from Mischief Makers.  Once the bookmark is folded and placed inside a book, the character will pop out of the top of the book!
  • On their second visit after they have read their first book, children will get a  collector poster of Beanotown, which includes a range of fun activities as well as space to keep track of their progress and rate the books they’ve read. The collector poster is easy to fold up and transport to and from the library or it can be left displayed on the wall at home. 
  • There are six stickers (some scratch and sniff) to collect – one for every book read - and a certificate for everyone who completes the Challenge.
  • There's an extra reward for those who read a further four books – this year's special Summer Reading Challenge wristband is red and black striped (just like Dennis's famous jumper!) with Mischief Makers de-bossed into the surface of the band. 
  • Throughout the Challenge library staff and teenage and adult volunteers are on hand to support children, helping them to discover new authors and explore a wide range of different types of books.
  • There are also linked events and activities to encourage families into libraries.  

Who can take part?

  • The Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at children aged from 4 to 11 years and is designed for all reading abilities
  • 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 pop-out Mischief Makers bookmark at any library in Derby from Saturday 14 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.  Click here to find out more about how to join the library or ask the library staff.   
Photos © Dale Cherry for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Idea Store Watney Market

What books can children read?

  • They can read any books they like - fact books, stories, joke books, picture books - just as long as they are borrowed from the library.
  • Audio books and eBooks count as well! 
  • For younger children and those learning to read, it’s fine to read or share books together with a parent or carer.

What events can children attend?

  • There are free Mischief Makers shows throughout the summer holidays including "Dennis and the Chamber of Mischief” presented by performance storyteller John Kirk; “Mischief Making Max” presented by Total Insight Theatre; and  “A Quite Remarkable Adventure” performed by Quite Remarkable Productions, particularly suitable for younger children.  Local poet Chris White will also be running some poetry and cartoon workshops.
  • 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 Eventbrite.

What else can children do?

  • 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, pre-schoolers will collect one sticker for each book they borrow and share with a parent or carer and a certificate when they complete the Challenge.   

When does the Challenge end?

  • The challenge ends on Saturday 15 September 2018.

The Reading Agency and Derby Libraries: Mischief Maker Summer Reading Challenge

Photos © Dale Cherry for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Idea Store Watney Market