Wilson, Baddiel and Cowell to feature in Summer Reading Challenge

Wilson, Baddiel and Cowell to feature in Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency has revealed the initial line-up of ambassadors for its Summer Reading Challenge 2020, including Jacqueline Wilson, David Baddiel and Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell.

The scheme, which reaches out to over 700,000 children each summer, will be hosted online this year owing to the pandemic and have a "silly squad" theme. 

Children's authors including Rob Biddulph, Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Steven Butler, Gareth P Jones, J M Joseph, Jennifer Killick and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson have pledged to support the campaign. Alongside poet Harry Baker and musician Chris Read, they will feature in online videos, and interactive activties from June to September.

Also featuring as ambassadors this year is children’s author and former "Blue Peter" presenter Konnie Huq, performance poet Joseph Coelho, Paul O'Grady, Ben Fogle, CBBC's Hacker T Dog alongside Radio 1 presenter Katie Thistleton, and TV presenting duo Sam and Mark.

Wilson said: “I feel the Summer Reading Challenge is extra important this year! How sensible to have a 'silly' theme. We've all had to deal with serious and scary issues, so it's time for a bit of fun. There are so many comical and crazy children's books to cheer us all up. Let's get reading and get happy!”

Founder of The Shed School Ashley Bates, illustrator Johanna Basford, actor and comedian Samantha Baines, author and game designer Gabrielle Kent, and authors David McKee, Milly Johnson, Dorothy Koomson, Kit de Waal and Kate Clanchy are also offering their support for the campaign.

The event launch on Friday 5th June with a virtual programme running on a Facebook page. It will feature readings, family activities and draw-a-longs from guest celebrities and authors. Over the summer, libraries will continue to run the challenge in partnership with the agency, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms.

The full schedule will be confirmed during the week of 1st June, and will include draw-a-longs with Laura Ellen Anderson and Rob Biddulph, bedtime reading session with actor Charlie Condou reading from This is Gus by Chris Chatterton (Macmillan Children’s Books), and poetry with Joseph Coelho.