By Rosie Pinder, Emma Rogers, Aimee Haldron and Lauren Gantt
The Summer Reading Challenge, presented by the Reading Agency and delivered in partnership with local libraries, is returning this year. The challenge aims to show children aged four to eleven the benefits of reading over the summer holidays, with 700,000 children having previously participated.
This year, The Challenge is partnering up with the Science Museum Group to deliver the theme “Gadgeteers,” encouraging children to explore science and innovation through engaging with the world around them.
A really exciting feature this year is the Book Sorter on The Challenge’s website. Using pictures, children can tell the Book Sorter about the kind of books they like to read and the Book Sorter will generate recommendations based on their preferences and age. All of the books have been recommended and reviewed by children themselves so are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit! The Book Sorter is a great place to begin if you’re just starting out and want some suggestions of accessible books related to the "Gadgeteers" theme.
It is important to remember as well that in addition to going into libraries and physically borrowing books, there are loads of other ways for children to get their hands on titles in order to complete the challenge. Most libraries offer e-books and audiobooks, and online platforms like BorrowBox and Overdrive mean that lots of these can be accessed from home. You can also participate by reading books you already own or those bought from bookshops. The Challenge recommends Bookshop.org and Hive as great places to buy from but, of course, don’t forget about your local independent bookshops!
It’s also worth noting that as well as the challenge itself, there are loads of exciting book-related activities available on The Summer Reading Challenge website to keep children busy over the summer holidays. Lots of these are courtesy of the British Library, including instructions on how to make a story soundtrack and a pop-up theatre book. I was also particularly excited when I spotted a monster comic strip competition!
However, trying to complete the reading challenge itself is, of course, the star of the show. So, here are some of our top book recommendations that you can read this summer!
● Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst
From Kate Pankhurst, a descendant of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, comes a beautiful book about the women in history who have helped to protect our natural world. This is an inspiring book for young girls.
● Little People, Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
This wonderful picture book series explores the lives of outstanding people, including designers, artists, scientists and activists. Encouraging readers to “Be Bold, Be Brave, DREAM BIG!”, this series introduces kids to an array of inspiring people in a way that is friendly and understandable to them while also involving lots of facts.
Early Years Books:
● Night Sky by Rola Shaw
A wonderfully illustrated tour of the night sky that is perfect for children aged five and above. This book takes the reader on a fascinating journey – from the ancient Egyptians to astronauts travelling into space, the night sky has always guided and inspired people.
● You are 25% Banana by Susie Brooks and Josy Bloggs
This colourful book is the perfect way to introduce children to the incredible science of genetics in an interesting but accessible way. Are we really 25% banana? I guess you’ll have to give it a read to find out…
● Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
From highly acclaimed author Oliver Jeffers, this book explores what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky to people and time, this book acts as a guide to starting readers on their journey of discovering all the world has to offer. And it teaches you that you’ve just got to be kind in a world that can sometimes be complicated and confusing.
● Brain Power: A Toolkit to Understand and Train Your Unique Brain by Dr. Ranj Singh
Doctor and former CBeebies presenter Dr. Ranj Singh discusses the brilliance of the brain, suggesting different ways you might be able to train it to become better at things you struggle with.
● What’s the Point of Science? By DK Children’s
From ‘how to spot an iceberg’ to ‘how to save a life’, this book is a brilliant introduction to the ways that science works and its importance in the world. It’s a really good starting point if you are struggling to get stuck into this year’s theme!
We hope you like our recommendations but, of course, these are just a few of our favourites. There are so many exciting books, comics, magazines and audiobooks to discover as part of the “Gadgeteers” theme for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.