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Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall Revealed as Ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, in partnership with WWF, is delighted to announce that teenage naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty and award-winning explorer, presenter, and writer Steve Backshall, are ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021, as the full plans for the campaign are unveiled.

The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages reading for pleasure for children aged 4 to 11 over the summer holidays. The Challenge launches in Scotland and Northern Ireland on 19th June, and on 10th July in England and Wales. Teaming up with WWF for 2021, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes which inspires children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. The annual Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. The Reading

Agency are aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1 million children with its new digital platform providing accessible, fun reading activities for all children.

With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or online, children will be able to join six fictional characters - 'wild heroes' - to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of 'Wilderville'.

A ‘Welcome to Wilderville: Meet the Heroes’ digital campaign will run over summer with a different weekly habitat theme, led by the Wild World Heroes, including Woodland, River, Farm, Town, Home/School and the Beach. The characters and landscape are illustrated by award-winning children's author and illustrator Heath McKenzie. 

Summer Reading ChallengeOver the summer term, WWF will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the nature theme in the Summer Reading Challenge and to explore some of the most important issues of our time through the power of reading. WWF will also be running school seminars and live lessons, with further details to be confirmed over June and July, and updates posted on their dedicated Summer Reading Challenge webpage.

A range of partners are also supporting the Challenge this year. Sky VIP are teaming up with The Reading Agency to offer thousands of VIP customers the chance to win a copy of Shark Seas by Sky presenter and Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador Steve Backshall. Customers will be invited to start their Summer Reading Challenge journey with Steve's book at participating libraries nationwide - and can head to the My Sky app to find out more. The Challenge is also being supported by Pearson (sponsoring the digital platform’s School Zone) and Overdrive Education (sponsoring the digital platform’s Home Zone).

Dara McAnulty, ambassador, said: 

“I am so excited to be championing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, to encourage children to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. I'm 17 years old now - but not so long ago, the Summer Reading Challenge was something myself and my siblings completed every summer. It's such a joy to now be an ambassador and encourage other children to take part in this wonderful scheme. I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with WWF for this year’s very special nature-themed ‘Wild World Heroes’, to help children explore ways of helping our magnificent earth. The Challenge feels more vital than ever after such a challenging year for school children, so it is brilliant to see the fun and engaging reading activities that everyone can get involved with, in libraries and online – inspiring them to help make a difference to nature. I look forward to celebrating two of my favourite things this summer… reading and helping the planet!”

Steve Backshall, ambassador, said: 

“I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for Wild World Heroes, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills

and confidence over the summer holidays. Wild World Heroes is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues! Happy Summer of Reading!"

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said:

“We’re delighted to be announcing further details of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, and to have the support of our wonderful ambassadors, Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall. We hope that this year, more children than ever will feel inspired and encouraged to sign up to the Challenge. After a difficult year for many, we are immensely grateful for the continued and longstanding support of public libraries, and we’re looking forward to working closely with them to help get children reading, alongside our brilliant partners and sponsors.”

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said:

“Young people are the future - and they are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates for our natural world. I’m continuously inspired by our young supporters at WWF and their efforts to speak up for nature, often in wonderful and creative ways. We are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action. 

We hope it will encourage more children across the UK to get reading, and to take positive action for the planet – our one shared home.” 

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:
“Reading is a cornerstone of children’s education and a key skill for developing their language and vocabulary. After the impact of the pandemic on young people, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is more timely than ever, and a great opportunity for children to discover the joy of reading while building knowledge of vital environmental issues.”

 

Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk for more information.

Find out more about the Wild World Heroes Book Collection here.

 

Follow the latest developments on social media: 

 

@ReadingAgency / @WWF

#SummerReadingChallenge / #WildWorldHeroes