More than 760,000 children across the UK took part in the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, with 6,550 more children talking part than in 2016, according to new figures from the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL).
The bodies released the statistics at the same as as announcing that the theme for next year's Summer Reading Challenge will be Mischief Makers, inspired by the children’s title Beano, which celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2018.
This summer, a total of 761,758 children across the UK took part in Animal Agents, the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, at their local libraries. This is an increase of 6,550 (0.87%) on 2016’s total, despite the "challenging climate facing UK public library services", said the organisers.
This year’s Summer Reading Challenge participant report shows that 44% of Animal Agents participants were boys.
This year’s overall figure includes 27,206 pre-schoolers who took part in the specially designed Mini Challenge – an increase of 7.05% on last year. The Mini Challenge enables younger siblings to have their own 'Challenge', provides a family-friendly introduction to the local library and helps parents and carers build confidence to share and read aloud with their children.
Animal Agents fostered increased online engagement on the official Summer Reading Challenge website. A total of 192,358 users - an increase of 24.7% on 2016 - spent more time on the site engaging with content and other users, with large boosts for page views, chat, and book recommendations.
Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of The Reading Agency, said: "We are delighted by the results of the Summer Reading Challenge this year. It is great to know that so many families made the most of their library over the holidays and we are full of admiration for the work done by librarians and Reading Hack volunteers to keep children reading every summer.
“Reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status which is why we work with our public library partners to open up reading to everyone.”
Neil MacInnes, president of the Society of Chief Librarians, said: “Reading helps children to make sense of their world and to open up entirely new ones. That's why I am so pleased to see that an extra 6,550 children took part in this year's challenge. SCL is committed to continue our work in libraries with The Reading Agency to promote children's reading for many years to come.”
Next year's The Mischief Makers Summer Reading challenge will sit alongside a host of celebrations planned by Beano Studios throughout the year.
Emma Scott, c.e.o. at Beano Studios, said: “We’re delighted to be the Summer Reading Challenge’s creative partner for 2018, Beano’s 80th year. Funny adventures and mischief have been at the heart of Beano’s storytelling for the past eight decades, from the comics to the annual and now online on Beano.com. With the Summer Reading Challenge now reaching three quarters of a million participants each year, we’re looking forward to working together to help children become a little more mischievous in their reading adventures.”
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