Go Wild for Reading with the Summer Reading Challenge 2021

July 12, 2021

Go wild for reading with the Summer Reading Challenge online or at your local library this year!

  • The Summer Reading Challenge launched in libraries across Wales and England on the 10th July (launched in Scotland and N. Ireland on 19 June)
  • ‘Wild World Heroes’ theme, in partnership with WWF, to encourage children across the country to engage in fun reading activity focused on environmental issues
  • Online Challenge platform offers digital rewards for reading, supporting reading catch-up after a difficult year for children
  • Exciting new content from authors and illustrators from Wales, thanks to support from Welsh Government
  • Libraries planning an exciting programme of supporting events and activities
  • Challenge being sponsored by Pearson and OverDrive Education – both organisations committed to keep children reading this summer
  • WWF to host virtual events including school seminars and live lessons

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, in partnership with WWF, is delighted to announce that teenage naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty, and award-winning explorer, presenter and writer Steve Backshall, are ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021, as the full plans for the campaign are unveiled.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages reading for pleasure for children aged 4 to 11 over the summer holidays. The Challenge will be launched in libraries across Wales and England on 10 July 2021 (having been launched in Scotland and N. Ireland on 19 June). Teaming up with WWF for 2021, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes, which inspires children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. The annual Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year; The Reading Agency is aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1 million children with its new digital platform providing accessible, fun reading activities for all children.

Bethan Hughes, on behalf of SCL Cymru (Society of Chief Librarians), said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is one of the highlights of the year in our libraries across Wales, and this year we are especially looking forward to welcoming children and their families. You can take part by visiting the library, collecting a pack, and through the exciting bilingual website. The Challenge gives children the opportunity to choose what they read, to discover new books and authors, and to develop their reading skills and confidence. The Challenge has a positive impact on the wellbeing and development of every child who takes part – and most importantly it’s great fun. We are grateful to The Reading Agency, Welsh Government and the Books Council of Wales for working in close partnership with us to offer the Challenge to the children of Wales.”

With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or online, children will be able to join six fictional characters – ‘wild heroes’ – to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of ‘Wilderville’.

A ‘Welcome to Wilderville: Meet the Heroes’ digital campaign will run over the summer with a different weekly habitat theme, led by the Wild World Heroes, including Woodland, River, Farm, Town, Home/School and the Beach. The characters and landscape are illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.

Over the summer term, WWF will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the nature theme in the Summer Reading Challenge and to explore some of the most important issues of our time through the power of reading. WWF will also be running school seminars and live lessons, with updates posted on their dedicated Summer Reading Challenge webpage.

On 15 July 2021 WWF Cymru have arranged workshops with storyteller Tamar Eluned Williams exploring how reading, writing and telling stories about nature can be inspiring and fun. She will also be introducing her latest book, The Library of Life/Llyfrgell Bywyd, published by Celf ar y Blaen/Head4Arts and Petra Publishing. There will be workshops in Welsh and English. Booking information can be found here Summer Reading Challenge | WWF.

The Welsh Government have provided additional support this year, via the Books Council of Wales, to develop the digital offer, and an exciting programme of new content from Wales has been commissioned that will be uploaded to the Summer Reading Challenge website during the summer.

Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport and Chief Whip, Welsh Government, said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an important and worthwhile initiative and I am delighted that the Welsh Government continues to provide financial support. It’s wonderful that libraries across Wales are all committed to delivering the physical offer this summer and it’s important that the digital element is also supported to ensure an equitable offer for children and families. We’re hoping that many children will join the Wild World Heroes this summer – to have fun with their reading and learn more about environmental issues.

Dara McAnulty, ambassador, said: “I am so excited to be championing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, to encourage children to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. I’m 17 years old now, but not so long ago, the Summer Reading Challenge was something myself and my siblings completed every summer. It’s such a joy to now be an ambassador and encourage other children to take part in this wonderful scheme. I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with WWF for this year’s very special nature-themed ‘Wild World Heroes’, to help children explore ways of helping our magnificent Earth. The Challenge feels more vital than ever after such a challenging year for school children, so it is brilliant to see the fun and engaging reading activities that everyone can get involved with, in libraries and online – inspiring them to help make a difference to nature. I look forward to celebrating two of my favourite things this summer… reading and helping the planet!”

Steve Backshall, ambassador, said: “I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for ‘Wild World Heroes’, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays. ‘Wild World Heroes’ is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues. Happy Summer of Reading!”

In Wales, the Books Council of Wales, a registered charity, supports the Summer Reading Challenge through direct sponsorship from the Welsh Government.

Helen Jones, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion, Books Council of Wales, said: “There couldn’t be a more important time to encourage children and young people to engage with nature and think about how they can take a positive step towards helping the planet. We believe in reading as a powerful tool to inspire action and imagination, and the Books Council of Wales is proud to support the Summer Reading Challenge again this year, in particular with new digital content featuring authors and illustrators from Wales.”

Rhian Brewster, Head of Communications, WWF Cymru, said: “Young people are the greatest advocates for climate and nature; they inspire us daily at WWF Cymru. Working with schools on literary and poetry projects recently here in Wales has demonstrated the passion, creativity and enthusiasm of our future generations which is why we are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action. We hope children across Wales will be encouraged to read, explore and take positive action for our world – our one shared home.”

Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk for more information.

Find out more about the Wild World Heroes Book Collection here.

Follow the latest developments on social media:

@ReadingAgency / @WWF @WWFCymru

#SummerReadingChallenge / #WildWorldHeroes

Books Council of Wales

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