LEICESTER Libraries are calling on children from across the city to become part of their Silly Squad for the digital Summer Reading Challenge.
The annual challenge – produced by The Reading Agency and delivered by local libraries - is going online this year, as libraries remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The idea is to encourage children to keep reading for pleasure during the long summer school break – but with many children already learning at home, the challenge is kicking off earlier this year, on Friday 5 June.
Taking the theme of the ‘Silly Squad’, the campaign is being backed by children’s authors, presenters and illustrators including Jacqueline Wilson, children’s laureate Cressida Cowell, Rob Biddulph and CBBC’s Sam and Mark.
It’s free to join and full of inspiring resources to help promote reading at home. Children can sign up for a safe, free digital account – which has to be approved by parents – where children can record their reading goals, chat to friends, play games and download or print off reading-related activities.
It’s easy to borrow books online, too. Leicester Libraries have thousands of ebooks, audio books, ecomics and emagazines available to borrow for free. They’re suitable for all ages, with new stock added regularly, and you can borrow up to five titles in total at a time, for up to 21 days. Visit the ‘Libraries from home’ webpage to find out more. All you need is your library card and PIN, and if you’re not already a member you can join online.
To tie in with the Silly Squad, some delightfully daft Silly Stories will be added to the Once Upon a Time video collection.
Assistant city mayor Cllr Kirk Master, who leads on neighbourhood services, said: “These are difficult times for us all, so we want to do as much as we can to help anyone with children at home to keep learning, have a bit of fun and enjoy reading or listening to something new.
“We’re really pleased to be backing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge with our own resources, including our very well received storytelling videos. They mean that children who attended our reading and activity sessions in neighbourhood libraries are still able to listen to stories from our friendly staff.
“We know that not every family in Leicester is able to access digital resources, so we are also working with local schools, children’s centres and the reading project Whatever It Takes to identify children who would like to be involved in an ‘offline’ reading challenge. Together, we will provide books and resources to 5,000 children to help them read for pleasure throughout the summer.”
On Friday, for the Silly Squad launch, a dedicated Facebook page hosted by The Reading Agency will be holding ‘Let’s Get Silly!’ – a day of online fun including special readings, family activities and draw-a-longs from guest celebrities and authors.
Author Jacqueline Wilson said: “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 comical and crazy children’s books to cheer us all up. Let’s get reading and get happy!”
Visit www.sillysquad.org.uk for more information and to sign up for your reading challenge this summer.
To find out more about Leicester Libraries’ online resources, visit our virtual library at www.leicester.gov.uk/librariesfromhome
Silly Squad Illustrations © Laura Ellen Anderson 2020