From Saturday 13th July to Saturday 31st August, young readers in Southampton are being encouraged to read at least 6 books across the course of their summer holiday, as part of the annual Summer Reading Challenge taking place nationwide.
The theme for 2019 is ‘Space Chase’, a fitting tribute to the first Moon landings which took place 50 years ago. The challenge itself simply asks children under 12 years old to borrow and read through any 6 library books (including audiobooks) over the summer. As with previous years, participants will receive an incomplete poster, which will be filled by 6 stickers. One is awarded for every book read as part of the challenge, some even with mysterious smells! This year, children will team up with futuristic family ‘The Rockets’ for an exciting space mission as they track down books nabbed by a mischievous band of aliens. Young readers will help the Rockets solve clues, dodge asteroids and discover the missing books (via the collectable stickers), having lots of fun and adventures along the way.
To take part in Space Chase, all children need to do is sign up at their nearest library, where they will be given a Space Chase collector folder to keep a record of their Summer Reading Challenge journey.
The aim of the SRC is to keep children’s literacy skills active over the long summer break in preparation for the next school year, as well as encouraging them to sign up and visit their local library on a regular basis.
Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency, a charity which encourages people to read more, said in the Southampton City Council press release announcing the initiative:
At The Reading Agency, we tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We know from our research that families and children love taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge, and we are proud to have been running the Challenge for twenty years this year. The space theme has been chosen to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Last summer, children worked with illustrator Adam Stower to come up with ideas for the Space Chase adventure, and we hope the Challenge will inspire all children to use their local library and to read lots of great books throughout the summer and beyond.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for homes and culture at Southampton City Council, said:
As a Council we are dedicated to improving life chances for our young people and literacy is vital to giving children the best possible start in life. Our libraries keep our communities learning and thriving and the Summer Reading Challenge is a great, fun way to keep the kids entertained over the holidays and has proved hugely successful in motivating children to read more over the summer holidays, with nearly 2,700 children taking part last year.
The challenge will launch in just under a month in all libraries across Southampton, and will be looking for volunteers to help run the event by distributing the posters, handing out the rewards and generally promoting the city libraries for the duration of the event.
As someone who has personally volunteered for this in my hometown, I would suggest anyone who is staying in Southampton over summer to consider volunteering for the SRC. Just a few hours a week could help local libraries, but it also provides experience working with children that can be listed on any CV or used as a talking point in any interview!