Some of the many children who completed the challenge Photo: KCC

More than 12,000 children signed up to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge through Kent’s libraries. 

This year, for the first time, children were able to participate either physically, by visiting a Kent Library, or virtually, by visiting the Summer Reading Challenge website. 

The topic changes each year, this year’s being Wild World Heroes, organised by the Reading Agency in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature. Children were inspired to explore ways of helping to save the planet with a focus on tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline.

Of the 12,035 children who took part in Kent, 6,130 children have completed it. 

  • 10,793 children physically took part by visiting a library
  • 5,783 children completed the challenge physically
  • 1,241 took the challenge digitally
  • 347 children completed the challenge digitally
  • KCC libraries registered 2,127 new members

The challenge was given a boost with support from KCC’s Reconnect programme, which meant children and their families could be offered free virtual events, activity packs and celebration events.

Four Virtual Zoolabs throughout August gave children the chance to meet some interesting animals virtually. Visit KCC’s Libraries, Registration & Archives YouTube channel to see the animals in action.

Activity packs made sure the fun and exploring could be kept going long after Wild World Heroes ended. These packs included a free cloth bag (to carry all those books), with a colour-in parrot on the front, a pack of felt tips (for the colouring-in), a Wild World Heroes activity booklet and a local walking/cycling route map.

The free celebration events, organised for children who have completed the Summer Reading Challenge, will be at Brockhill Country Park on Saturday 2 October, at either 10-12 or 1.30-3.30.  Children will also have opportunity to explore the natural world of the park. 

KCC’s library service worked closely with Explore Kent, who donated free cycling/walking maps for the activity bags; Kent Country Parks who have organised the free celebration event in October; and local author Jenny Bailey who gave permission to share her recorded story “Tales from Mother Earth: Phoebe the Bee” via social media.

Children’s feedback on the challenge included:

  • I love the reading challenge because it gives me time to read books that I haven’t read before. I love Wild World hero theme because the world needs some changes to make it a better place – child from Tonbridge North
  • I’m 6 and I’ve already got my medal. The challenge was brilliant and I’m interested in polar bears and I learnt about global warming and I watched a programme about the polar bears in the Arctic and how they can’t get enough food anymore because of the ice disappearing. I’m going to keep reading lots of books because I like to learn things and I like facts. – child from Swanley.
  • I think Wild World Heroes was an amazing idea as it entwines many things together. I absolutely love books and the wildlife thriving around us. The form was also simple and easy to fill out. The activity sheets kept me busy for a while, testing my knowledge of vocabulary. I loved this challenge. – child from Coxheath

Adults’ feedback included:

  • I liked the theme this year as we are trying hard to be more eco-conscious. My favourite part of the challenge was spending more time with my children. – parent from Minster in Thanet.
  • The Reading Challenge is excellent. My 8-year-old is dyslexic and my 7-year-old has ADHD. The challenge has helped them both read especially the youngest one. Please do a Christmas challenge.  – parent from new Ash Green.
  • The Wild World Heroes summer reading challenge 2021 has really motivated my grandson to keep reading throughout the school holidays.  He lacks confidence with his reading and being able to visit the library regularly to choose his own books and then receive rewards each time he has finished them, has really inspired him. – grandparent from Shepway.
  • Definitely kept the motivation of reading over the summer holiday! Reading speed has improved.  – parent from Meopham
  • My son’s reading level has really suffered during Covid, it’s great seeing him so excited about reading again, he keeps asking when can we visit the library again to get his next stickers. – parent from Gravesend
  • My daughter learnt to read this year and the SRC has come at the perfect time to enhance here enjoyment and excitement for reading She is so proud of her medal Thank you I have loved being read to also!  – parent from Meopham.

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, Mike Hill, said: “Our library service has done a superb job in organising the Summer Reading Challenge once again, albeit in a slightly different way because of the pandemic.

“I congratulate all the children who took part and hope that the challenge has encouraged them to read more widely in the future. I was delighted to read so many positive messages from these young people and their parents.”

By Ed

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