Silly Squad Feat

Summer Reading Challenge Survey

A survey commissioned by The Reading Agency (conducted by Beano Brain Omnibus 2020) to mark the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 today (Friday 5 June 2020) reveals that 89% of 7-11-year-olds surveyed have been reading during lockdown, with 37% of them reading more than before schools closed. The majority of children have been looking to digital influencers for reading inspiration, with 45% of children turning to YouTube and 28% to social media for ideas – and almost one third (31%) turning to friends for advice.

Reading was cited as something that made children feel relaxed and happy during lockdown, with a quarter (26%) saying characters in books have made them laugh during this difficult time. Chapter books have proved the most popular reads, chosen by 3 in 5 children (61%), with 40% of children opting to read comics. 57% of boys and 65% of girls chose chapter books, and 49% of boys and 30% of girls read comics.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages children aged 4-11 to read during the long summer break, with research showing a dip in reading levels if children do not have regular access to books.

This year, the Challenge’s ‘Silly Squad’ theme places an emphasis on funny books, encouraging children to read whatever makes them happy, whether that’s a book, a comic, a silly poem or a funny joke book — in digital or print format, from e-book lending through the public library service or from what they already have at home. The official Summer Reading Challenge book collection will also act as a guide.

With almost half of the children surveyed (45%) saying they’re most looking forward to seeing their friends after lockdown ends, The Reading Agency’s invitation to ‘Join Our Silly Squad’ could not be more timely. Children taking part in their Challenge are encouraged to form their own virtual Silly Squads and talk about the stories they love, reinforcing social connections and helping to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, which many children have felt during this time of social distancing.

The survey found:

  • 89% of children have been reading in some form during lockdown.
  • 68% of boys and 70% of girls surveyed reported a love of reading.
  • The majority of children look to digital influencers for reading inspiration, with 45% of children turning to YouTube and 28% to social media for ideas, and almost one-third (31%) following the advice of friends. Traditional media was also a popular source, with 27% getting ideas from seeing books on TV and 18% from hearing about them on the radio.
  • 3 in 5 children (61%) surveyed chose to read chapter books during lockdown, with comics a close second at 40%.
  • Reading has helped 40% of children relax and made over a third (35%) happy, with almost a fifth (17%) talking to friends about books as a way of staying connected and a quarter (26%) saying characters in books have made them laugh during lockdown.

With school life disrupted and many children missing the company of their friends, this year’s all-new digital Summer Reading Challenge will be all the more vital as a way of helping parents and carers find fun, family-friendly activities online, maintain literacy levels and create a safe space for children to connect with their peers.

Children can sign up at www.sillysquad.org.uk from today with a fun-filled series of events from Ambassadors running from 4.00 – 7.00pm on The Summer Reading Challenge Facebook page. The star-studded list of ambassadors taking part in the digital launch include CBBC presenters Sam and Mark; former Blue Peter presenter and children’s authorKonnie Huq; performance poet Joseph Coelho; comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady; actress Shobna Gulati; comedian and author David Baddiel; TV adventurer Ben Fogle; and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog reunited with Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton.