The Reading Agency to pilot school model for Summer Reading Challenge 2021
Published 11 Jun 2021

Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister is joined by Libraries NI Chief Executive, Jim O’Hagan, along with school pupils from Holy Trinity Primary School Belfast, during a visit to the school to officially launch this year’s Summer Reading Challenge 2021 Pilot

Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister is joined by Libraries NI Chief Executive, Jim O’Hagan, along with school pupils from Holy Trinity Primary School Belfast, during a visit to the school to officially launch this year’s Summer Reading Challenge Pilot.


• National charity working with cohort of library and local authority partners to pilot a new partnership approach, designed to increase access for children to the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge
• Key stage 2 Children (Years 3-7) in selected schools to receive Challenge collector packs at the end of the summer term
• Model offers support for learning catch-up and ensures children who need the benefits of reading have access to summer reading activity


The Reading Agency is working with Libraries NI to pilot a school model for delivery of this year's Summer Reading Challenge. Each child in Years 3-7 in 12 local schools will be given a Challenge Collector Pack at the end of June to encourage them to read over the summer months.

This year, the Pilot Challenge was officially launched by Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister during a visit to Holy Trinity Primary School in Belfast where she was joined by Libraries NI Chief Executive, Jim O’Hagan, Principal of Holy Trinity Primary School, Fiona Boyd and several school pupils.

The annual children’s reading programme delivered in partnership with public libraries reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year and will launch in June/July 2021. Through the pilot, which will be supported by a new digital Challenge platform, the charity will be aiming to increase engagement with children who might not normally take part including those in areas of disadvantage.

Evidence shows that the Reading Challenge is an effective COVID-19 recovery tool, encouraging reading for pleasure over the summer holidays, building reading skills and confidence and helping to prevent the 'dip' in reading skills that normally occurs when children are off school.

The pilot involves public libraries working with local schools to support the Summer Reading Challenge and encouraging children to read for fun. It is widely acknowledged that reading is an essential life skill and the Challenge offers a range of incentives and rewards to encourage the reading habit – all free to children and families at the point of access.

The pilot model is based on public library services working at a strategic level with schools to support universal access to the benefits of summer reading activity. Evidence shows this engagement is likely to deliver an increase and improvement in reading engagement, motivation, confidence and communication skills. There is also evidence to show that engagement with the Challenge supports wellbeing and family connectedness – vital in a post pandemic landscape where children are estimated to have lost up to 183 days of learning and existing inequalities have been amplified.

Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister said:

“Reading is a crucial life skill but it also provides children, who have had a year like no other, with the opportunity to use their imaginations to venture to the amazing places described and visualised in the pages of books. I would encourage parents, grandparents and carers to avail of this wonderful opportunity to get children signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge and enjoy the adventures waiting on the bookshelves of your local library.”

Jim O’Hagan, Libraries NI Chief Executive said:

“There is widespread concern about COVID-19’s impact on children’s education and the importance of supporting educational activity during the summer. The Summer Reading Challenge provides a way for parents and children to focus on reading for fun, reading books that the children will enjoy and to reward them for their efforts. Any child can call in to their local library from the 19 June to sign up for the Challenge and there will be a wide selection of books available.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

“Never has it been more important to support children's engagement with the proven power of reading and start their reading journeys. Reading not only develops life skills and learning but also supports mental health and well-being. The past year has been particularly challenging for children across the country, and we hope that by working with local authorities on this new integrated approach, the benefits of the Summer Reading Challenge will reach more families than ever."


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