Time to join the Silly Squad for this year's digital Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge is the biggest annual reading promotion for children in the UK - and this year, for the first ever time, it’s going digital.

Every year, the Challenge encourages children aged 4 – 11 years to read books of their choice during the summer holidays, offering collectable rewards for their progress.

For 2020, the Challenge theme is “Silly Squad”,  featuring special artwork created by award-winning children's author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson.  Children are invited to join the Silly Squad, a crew of fun-loving animals who enjoy exploring lots of different types of funny books.  

This year, with schools having been closed this spring to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the national Challenge is being launched by the Reading Agency earlier than usual, to help inspire more children to read all summer long.

Manchester children are invited to join the free Challenge online.  Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk to set up your own personal profile area where you can set reading goals, review books and see book recommendations. You can also chat to friends on the forum, play games and download activities.

You can sign-up to start reading from today (Friday 5 June), but circle 1 July on your calendar too.  That’s when Manchester’s fantastic, nine-week long programme of online events, stories and crafts with guest authors, poets and artists is set to begin.  

The Summer Reading Challenge in Manchester is supported by Read Manchester, a partnership between Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust, which engages local families with books and stories, and inspires them to make reading a priority in their everyday lives.  

Two Read Manchester ambassadors will be playing a big role in promoting the joy of reading for pleasure to local children this summer.  Much-loved children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt will be launching the activity programme in Manchester and will also appear every week to offer an online ‘Draw With Me’ session on Facebook.  Meanwhile, award-winning local poet Dommy B will be performing weekly poetry sessions, which will leave children in stitches and hopefully inspire them to have a go at funny poetry themselves.  

Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Reading is so important for our children’s development, which is why our team pulls out all the stops to make the Summer Reading Challenge fun, engaging and very popular here in Manchester.

“The Challenge - simply to read and enjoy books - is still the same, but in these difficult times, when all of our normal routines, including school and library attendance, have been disrupted by the virus, we’re coming up with lots of new ways to get children involved digitally.

“From July, we’ll be offering nine weeks of amazing content, which you will be able to see live on our Facebook page and catch-up with on our YouTube channel.  

“But the time to sign up for the Challenge is now, so you can start making the most of our free collection of e-books and audio books.”

E-books and audiobooks are available to download for free, using BorrowBox and Manchester Libraries have been adding more books to the collections to cope with demand.  Visit www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries to find out how you can start accessing new titles or listen to new stories digitally, 24/7.

More information about the Summer Reading Challenge in Manchester can be found at the Manchester Libraries blog.

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