The Reading Agency said that 839,622 children took part in the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, a 3.6% increase compared to 2013.
Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of The Reading Agency, said she was pleased that the numbers were up despite cuts to library services.
“Library budgets are very tight at the moment and local authorities are looking to save money, so it’s a really great result,” she told The Bookseller.
Some 3,519 libraries and 251 mobile libraries took part and, based on the figures supplied from 84% of participating authorities, The Reading Agency estimates children borrowed over 18m books during the summer.
The challenge takes place every year to encourage schoolchildren to read six books during the summer holidays. The 2014 Challenge was called Mythical Maze and the official illustrator was Sarah McIntyre, but children can read any books they like.
Wilkinson said: “There is a need for every child to be able to read well. However good your school is, you’re only in school for a few hours a day, and not at all during the summer. Reading has to be fun and you have to want to do it.”
Outside of libraries, 14,621 under 4s took part in the challenge using the specially produced Summer Reading Challenge early years material, and the British Council helped 30,200 children take part internationally.