Record numbers for summer reading scheme

The number of children taking part in its 2013 Summer Reading challenge increased 9% from 2012, organising charity The Reading Agency has said.

The 2013 "Creepy House" campaign saw a record 810,089 children to take up the challenge of reading six books at their local library. In the UK, 777,973 children aged 4-11 took part and 6,711 under 4s. Internationally, 25,405 children participated through the British Council (12,060) and in the Republic of Ireland (13,345).
 
“A few factors contributed to the success of the campaign,” director Anne Sarrag told The Bookseller. “We were so lucky to secure Chris Riddell as an in illustrator this year, which generated a lot of extra PR.”
 
Eight "champion authors", including Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell Boyce and children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, as well as "special champion" Frank Lampard, lent their support, as did major publishers, she added.
 
The use of online tools also helped the campaign, and The Reading Agency said visits to the summerreadingchallenge.org.uk website increased 39%, while page views were up 48%. The charity has also created the Book Sorter, a crowd-sourcing tool, which recommends books to children based on input from readers over the past three years. “Overall we had 55,000 children sign up and over the summer they put 192,661 titles into the sorter,” said programme manager Lynn Taylor.
 
Roald Dahl dominated the books put into the tool, as Fantastic Mr Fox was the most popular title for boys, followed by The Twits. For the girls, The Twits came in at number one, followed by Fantastic Mr Fox and then Matilda. David Walliams was also popular and Jacqueline Wilson came through for girls aged 10 and above.
 
Tricia Adams, director of The School Library Association (SRA), praising the SRC's “amazing effect on the reading for pleasure agenda in schools”. Barbara Band, vice president of the chartered institute of library and information professionals (CILIP), said: “Skilled, knowledgeable and passionate staff in public libraries and school libraries play an incredibly important role supporting and encouraging children to discover and develop a love of reading.”    
 
The Reading Agency said the annual challenge also helps prevent the summer dip in literacy skills. Some 44% of participants this year were boys, compared with only 1 in 4 boys who read outside class every day, it said, quoting The National Literacy Trust.
 
Looking forward to next year, the theme for the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge will be "Mythical Maze", about myths and legends, to be created by illustrator Sarah McIntyre.
 
“Chris raised the platform this year and Sarah is also very popular with children,” said Sarrag.