The Summer Reading Challenge at Number 11 Downing Street

23 July 2013

On 8 July The Reading Agency held an event at Number 11 Downing Street to celebrate the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge with key partners. The following blog is an extract from Miranda McKearney's speech at the event.

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(Image credit: The Reading Agency)

If you struggle with reading so much of life is closed to you - education, employment and participation in community life. So our mission is to create a fairer society by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers.

Tonight, The Reading Agency is here to thank all the partners behind the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge which goes live in libraries all over England and Wales on Saturday 12 July, and will be launched to the public in Trafalgar Square as part of the Evening Standard's Get Reading festival that day. The Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland is already going great guns, as schools break up earlier there.

If we want a fairer society we all need to help children love reading, and the Summer Reading Challenge's alchemy helps us do just that.

We have a huge number of long standing Summer Reading Challenge partners to whom we're extremely grateful. We're also developing some new partnerships: we're working with the National Association for the Teaching of English to increase schools' engagement in the Challenge; all 10 of the Arts Council's Bridge organisations and as well as Trinity College have worked with us to pilot linking the Summer Reading Challenge with Arts Award; Macmillan Children's Books have supported a linked logbook; and library technology company D-Tech has sponsored work on the Summer Reading Challenge website.

Young volunteers

In the last three years we have been supporting librarians to develop the involvement of young Reading Activist volunteers, who act as motivational community mentors to the children doing the Challenge. I'm honoured to welcome three representatives of this growing army of inspiring young people: Philip, Harreeka and Abigail.

Our volunteering work has been supported by the Social Action Fund and the John Laing Charitable Foundation and it's really great of John Laing to support us in holding tonight's reception.

Gift from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation

To mark its 25th anniversary, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is making a series of gifts. Their final one is to The Reading Agency. And it's a gift of £1m. This will help us transform our work with young people into a new Reading Activist Challenge, so that we can help thousands more young volunteers like those you've just heard from tonight can support reading in their communities and develop vital skills and a love of reading along the way.

Get involved

Read more on the Summer Reading Challenge by Miranda McKearney from her speech at the Scottish Parliament in June.