The Reading Agency plans to keep a record number of children enjoying reading during the school summer holidays, as libraries across the UK launch 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, Mythical Maze. Libraries across the country have a host of special activities planned, here June Lightfoot and Christine Hill of Hull City Council’s library service give an insight into how it will run in their area.
More than 800,000 children will read more than three million books this summer as Mythical Maze, the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, introduces them to a fantastical world of legend and mythology, led by some inspired illustrating from the award-winning Sarah McIntyre! Each year the Summer Reading Challenge to children is simple. They’re encouraged to read six or more books of their choice – fact books, joke books, picture books, anything just as long as they are borrowed from the library – during the holidays. There are collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge. Children can sign up at their local library as their summer term ends, and all materials are absolutely free. It is backed up with an interactive Summer Reading Challenge website (www.summerreadingchallenge.co.uk) where children can chat, get reading recommendations and enter competitions.
Hull City Council will once again join 98% of libraries across the UK in running the SRC. Last year in Hull, 2,000 children took part in the Creepy House SRC, with 1600 (80%) finishing. To celebrate, we held two medal ceremonies at City Hall at the end of September, where the Lady Mayor and Admiral of the Humber presented the completers‘ medals, and no less than 1,100 people came together to help celebrate. This year’s SRC was officially launched in Hull on 12 July at the Central Library and St Stephens Shopping Centre, with medal ceremonies planned for October, our staff are quietly confident that even more Hull children will complete the SRC this summer.
For the first time ever, librarians and families will this summer be able to download a free mobile App which recognises key Mythical Maze illustrations and triggers audio visual content, thanks to some ‘digital magic’ from The Reading Agency and SOLUS UK.
In Hull, library staff gain valuable preparatory training, experience and confidence in assisting children in choosing books for SRC that they will enjoy via the annual James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award, which celebrates the best fiction published during the previous year. Young children in Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 are encouraged to read a number of shortlisted titles within their schools, and they are then invited to attend voting days to discuss the titles and choose their favourite book, with the support of library and teaching staff. It is one of Hull library service’s most important days, with training and support offered to all staff who take part so that they feel confident to lead discussions on their tables, with the award also enhancing staff knowledge of current trends in children’s literature. Joining up work with children in Hull, library staff also find that the SRC can be a fruitful resource encouraging young people to join Hull’s Chatterbooks reading groups.
Increasingly, primary schools have been linking up with local libraries to promote the SRC before the summer term ends, raising sign-up rates: this in turn supports teachers by helping ensure children’s reading levels don’t dip over the holidays. In Hull this summer, as last year, a theatre company was commissioned to visit all primary and special schools in Hull, to promote Mythical Maze. The Spin Off Theatre Company created a number of short plays to present, also performing at the official SRC launch at Hull Central Library and are booked for the end-of-summer SRC celebrations. They have also composed a special SRC song.
For young people aged 13 to 24, the SRC also provides an opportunity to volunteer and support younger children taking part, providing quality workplace experience in libraries, inspiring them to think about future careers, building life skills and confidence and increasing employability. For a few years now, Hull’s library service has been encouraging young people to volunteer in local libraries over the summer holidays. This year they have successfully promoted these opportunities through social media to Hull University, Hull College, local sixth form colleges and local secondary schools, and directly to young visitors to local libraries. This drive has recruited 15 committed young people, who also realise the benefits of volunteering towards their future careers. Hull has also secured funding to engage and train its SRC volunteers, to provide them with skills in event organisation,planning and confidence-building.
Our hopes are high for record-breaking participation in the 2014 SRC. We think it will be magical!
Ethan’s Voice by Rachel Carter won the James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award
The full shortlist is:
Ethan’s Voice, Rachel Carter, Scholastic, 978-1407135502, £5.99
The Finding of Freddie Perkins, Liz Baddaley, A&C Black 978-1408186084, £5.99
The EXtincts, Veronica Cossantelli, Chicken House, 978-1908435453, £5.99
Dear Scarlet, Fleur Hitchcock, Nosy Crow, 978-0857631503, £6.99 pbk
The Great Ice-Cream Heist, Elen Caldecott, Bloomsbury, 978-1408820506, £6.99 pbk