Children in Wales Make Space for Reading as Summer Reading Challenge Prepares for Lift-Off

15 Jul 2019

Get ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge with Space Chase, a very special reading mission.

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, launched the challenge in Newtown Library on Friday, 12 July 2019, and was joined by popular author and illustrator Max Low.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is Space Chase, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Endorsed by parents, teachers, the Welsh Books Council and Welsh Government, the Summer Reading Challenge reaches children and young people of all ages, with over 40,000 children taking part last year in Wales.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: "The Summer Reading Challenge is an important and exciting initiative encouraging children to make time during the school summer holidays to read their favourite books. What is so fantastic is that you can take part in this challenge wherever you are – on holiday by the pool, in your bedroom or whilst you are sitting in your garden. I can’t wait to hear about what books you choose to read during the holidays and you can post your Summer Reading Challenge pictures on social media using the hashtag #SummerReadingChallenge."

To take part in the Space Chase challenge, children can sign up for free at their local library, where they will be given their very own Space Chase mission folder to get them started. Those taking part must read at least six library books over the school summer holidays and collect stickers which will help them find aliens and complete the challenge.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: "The Summer Reading Challenge is a key event for the summer holidays and I know libraries, schools and children all over Wales look forward to it every year because we all know how important it is for children to keep reading over the summer holidays. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government can support libraries to run the Challenge and this year’s theme of space chase will certainly capture the imagination of children across Wales and encourage them to join in for an out of this world adventure."

Children are encouraged to use the Summer Reading Challenge website to create a profile, chat about books, and get information on what books to read next, via the digital Book Sorter, which offers over 600,000 peer-to-peer children’s book recommendations in child-friendly categories.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Welsh Books Council and former primary school teacher, said: "We find that when children return to school after the summer holidays, some have taken a step back and have not come into contact with books for six weeks, which can have a detrimental impact on their development. Reading can impact how children discuss their emotions, as well as their ability to share ideas and to understand the world around them. My advice would be to make time every day for reading with your children, whether it be five minutes or an hour, and to make this part of a daily routine. This will have a positive impact all round and I urge families across Wales to take part in this fun Summer Reading Challenge."

The challenge also offers volunteering opportunities for young people, including placements at libraries to inspire them to think about their futures and gain useful life skills. Last year, 134 young people aged between 12 and 24 chose to take part in volunteering opportunities.

The Summer Reading Challenge is the UK’s biggest annual reading promotion for children aged 4–11. Its aim is to encourage children to visit their local libraries and inspire them to read for pleasure. During last year’s challenge 663,851 children’s books were issued in libraries across Wales and over 3,000 children joined the library as new members.

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