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School’s out, sun’s out, books out – hopes for a sizzling Summer Reading Challenge as hundreds of children sign up

By July 23, 2018January 26th, 2021Member News & Updates

A packed programme of events to encourage children to pack books along with snacks and sunscreen for all their summer activities has been launched across Devon and Torbay.


The Summer Reading Challenge 2018 has officially started across the 54 libraries in Devon and Torbay with well over 600 participants signed up on the first day.


It’s hoped that this year’s Challenge, which has the theme of ‘Mischief Makers’ and is inspired by the historic Beano comic which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, will once again involve thousands of children from across the county.


Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs Devon and Torbay’s libraries, hosts the Summer Reading Challenge every year. In 2017, more than 11,000 children in Devon took part throughout the summer.


Launch events on the official first day of the Challenge (Saturday 14th July) this year included a Dennis the Menace puppet workshop and Beano themed Lego Club at Paignton Library, Beano skittles and games at Brixham Library and a visit from the Peek’s Hill Walking llamas at Sidmouth Library, who were there to welcome the children and got into the mischievous spirit of the Challenge by nibbling on the library’s elm tree!


At Exeter Library, there was a potion-making session with Sciencedipity, and 'hydrophobic' poetry on the terrace outside the library entrance with artist Chris Jelley. The children also cast their votes as to which Exeter supervisor deserves a pie in the face at the end of the summer. Ilfracombe Library hosted balloon-modelling, badge-making and free goody bags for everybody signing up and Northam Library held a ‘Really Wild’ animal-handling experience and free goody bags.


South Molton Library welcomed children’s book illustrator Joseph Witchall to help launch the Challenge, whilst Okehampton Library and Passmore Edwards Centre in Newton Abbot held a Beano themed treasure hunt.  The Hayridge in Cullompton, Appledore Library and Tiverton Library all hosted Beano themed Lego club.


The Summer Reading Challenge is open to children aged 4 to 11 and is run by education charity The Reading Agency. Once signed up to the Challenge, children are set the task of reading six books of their choice during the six-week school holiday including picture books, novels, non-fiction, and audiobooks. If the item is borrowed from the library it counts as part of the Challenge.


Challengers who complete the six book challenge will receive a medal and certificate from the Reading Agency, presented by library staff. Some libraries will also award additional prizes, including Devon Libraries branded goodie bags, reusable drinks bottles, adventure park tickets and free zoo entry. To encourage children to take part and keep them involved throughout the summer, libraries hold numerous events and activities, many supported by their local Friends Groups, and by young volunteers.


Ciara Eastell OBE, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited said: “It’s been a wonderful start to this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and we’re very much hoping we can attract even more children into taking part in the Challenge in 2018. The Beano theme in Mischief Makers is designed to appeal to both children and their parents and grandparents, so we hope to see lots of families enjoying the fun activities all together.


She continued: “As a charity, we are committed to our mission of bringing ideas and creativity to people’s lives, and the Summer Reading Challenge is always a key focus for us to meet and engage with children, young people and families offering fun and free entertainment throughout the holidays. We have hundreds of activities planned across Devon and Torbay libraries ranging from comedy and slime workshops to visits from Exmoor Zoo and film nights. It’s all aimed at keeping up the momentum with children’s reading progress over the holidays, encouraging their love of reading and showing more people that libraries have so much to offer.”

Julie Dent, Chair of the Board of trustees for Libraries Unlimited said: “We want to make this another successful summer of reading for children and young people in Devon and Torbay, and are hosting even more events to reach even more families. Devon Libraries had over 11,000 participants in 2017 and this year’s predicted heatwave means more opportunities for children to take books with them to read on their summer adventures and on the beach, as well as at home. And if they want to get out of the sun, there are dozens of activities in our libraries where everyone is welcome. It’s easy to find out what’s going online on our Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries websites and social media, or pop into your local library where staff will be more than happy to share their programme of activity.”

The Reading Agency confirmed 761,758 children across the UK took part in last year’s challenge. The Summer Reading Challenge in Devon and Torbay runs from 14th July until 7th September 2018. A list of all library activity during this period can be found at, or via the library social media channels.


To take part, children must be a member of one of the 54 libraries in Devon and Torbay. Signing up is free and simple to do and opens up a world of information, events, activities and resources for people of all ages.


To find out more about Libraries Unlimited visit, follow on Twitter @LibrariesUnLtd or