One giant leap to keeping every child’s learning on track this summer

The ‘summer slide’ isn’t a corny name for a new East Devon theme park ride. It is a phrase used to describe the impact of the school summer holiday on children’s learning.

Extensive research suggests the six week break can extend the inequality gap, especially impact those from rural areas and leave children already struggling at a significant disadvantage come September.

Children from low income families are known to suffer the most. They can lose up to two months of maths skills alone.

So, how do busy parents manage to juggle the already not insignificant challenges posed by the holiday – and a spot of education?

In the US, parents are advised to encourage their children to read at least 15 books. In the UK, we have got the Summer Reading Challenge.

“The Summer Reading Challenge is about reading for the pleasure of reading,” says Lauren Child, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2017-2019. “Stories are important because they nourish us and broaden our thinking.

“Librarians and all those involved in the huge success of the Summer Reading Challenge know how important this is and seek to change lives one book at a time.”

Summer learning initiative marks 20th anniversary

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the challenge encourages primary school children to keep reading during the holidays. The emphasis is, as Lauren says, on reading for pleasure.

There are no ability requirements – just plenty of inspiration and fun to hook in even the most disengaged.

With a different theme every year, no Summer Reading Challenge is the same.

There are rewards for children who complete the challenge and, best of all, it is free to take part.

Research has shown that the Summer Reading Challenge helps children keep up with key skills during the summer. Last year 699,076 youngsters took part.

The Reading Agency is behind the challenge. It works with schools and libraries to deliver something new and engaging every year.

Out of this world Space Chase

In 2019 the Summer Reading Challenge has gone into orbit – quite literally.

The Space Chase is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon. It really is out of this world. It features the Rocket family, whose library is…on the moon.

Unlike the real moon landing, theirs involves aliens. The extra terrestrials turn out to be thieves and the Rockets have to track down missing books.

Featuring custom-created artwork by top children’s illustrator Adam Stower, the Space Chase is a celebration of adventure, exploration, reading and fun.

It launched in libraries last week.

Free events are being staged at libraries across East Devon. And, of course, books can be borrowed for free. Simply pick up a mission pack to get your child started.

Novelist Maggie O’Farrell is supporting the initiative. She says: “The Summer Reading Challenge is a wonderful initiative – what could be better than getting our children into libraries? I can’t recommend it highly enough. My son has always been a listener but now he’s also a reader.”

Don’t want your child to suffer learning loss this summer? Send them into space at your nearest library.

Useful links

Honiton Library

Sidmouth Library

Exmouth Library

Budleigh Salterton Library

Ottery St Mary Library


Join the Space Chase at Honiton Library

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