I’ve never been particularly sporty and only ever won one bronze medal in my entire sports day career. However, there is, stuffed in my desk draw, a set of medals tied with red balloon ribbon which I never failed to win.
For any of you who don’t know, the summer reading challenge is run by libraries to encourage middle school kids to read. The aim is to read 6 books over summer, checking them off in a booklet and receiving small toys and stickers along the way as an incentive. The toys and booklet are usually geared towards a certain theme- the last one I remember being the ‘Questseekers’ challenge back in 2009.
The reading challenge may seem cheesy and gimmicky to university students but to 11 year old kids it’s perfect. It gives kids something to do, gets them into reading and they get small toys along the way when it’s summer and pocket money is probably dwindling. I can still remember walking from the library to the park and lying on the grass with an old Enid Blyton novel about the secret five or seven or whatever they were called. Ticking off those six books was a great way to spend summer!
The summer reading challenges are not only fun but really set kids up for life. Reading broadens their horizons, opens up the world to them – and a good book can immerse you into the world so much better than television will ever manage to. It’s fun, enjoyable, and educational (although I’ve never seen the benefits of this as my spelling is atrocious).
My only complaint is that the incentive to get people reading stops at the age of 11. Once, I arrogantly told my dad that books were a thing of the past and now I am biting my nails for the next release date from my favourite authors, discussing ships and plots well into the night with my friends, and grabbing the nearest paperback between revision breaks. Whatever age you are, reading is always fun, and there’s some small pocket of the world of literature for everyone.
And as kids grab their shiny booklets advertising this year’s challenge, I’ll still be lying in my sunny patch of grass in the park, maybe with a slightly more adult book tucked beneath my shadow.