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First Ambassadors announced for digital Summer Reading Challenge

02 June 2020 Share

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge 2020 is pleased to announce the initial line-up of stars who have pledged their support for this year before the digital platform launches on Friday 5th June..

The nation’s most popular reading challenge which engages over 700,000 children each summer launches in an all-new digital format this year due to Covid-19 and the ongoing social distancing measures in schools and public libraries. 


The star-studded list of ambassadors includes: CBBC presenters Sam and Mark; children’s author Jacqueline Wilson; comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady; Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell; comedian and author David Baddiel; TV adventurer Ben Fogle; former Blue Peter presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq; performance poet Joseph Coelho and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog reunited with Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton. They are joined by children’s authors including Rob Biddulph, Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Steven Butler, Gareth P Jones, J M Joseph, Jennifer Killick and Silly Squad illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, all of whom have books in the official Silly Squad book collection. Founder of The Shed School Ashley Bates, illustrator Johanna Basford OBE, actress and comedian Samantha Baines, author and game designer Gabrielle Kent, plus bestselling authors David McKee, Milly Johnson, Dorothy Koomson, Kit de Waal and Kate Clanchy MBE are also offering their support for the campaign.

Jacqueline Wilson, author and supporter of the Summer Reading Challenge says:“I feel the Summer Reading Challenge is extra important this year! How sensible to have a Silly theme. We've all had to deal with serious and scary issues, so it's time for a bit of fun. There are so many comical and crazy children's books to cheer us all up. Let's get reading and get happy!”

The Summer Reading Challenge will run from June to September, launching on Friday 5 June with a virtual Let’s Get Silly programme running from the Summer Reading Challenge’s Facebook page. The launch will feature special super silly readings, family activities and draw-a-longs from guest celebrities and authors. Over the summer, libraries will continue to run the Challenge in partnership with The Reading Agency, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms, and adapting their delivery if social distancing measures develop and change.The full schedule will be announced the week commencing Monday 1 June with the following virtual events already confirmed:

  • CBBC’s Sam and Mark kick-off the party with their unique brand of ‘silly’ fun.
  • Readings and jokes from authors including David Baddiel, Ben Fogle, Philip Ardagh, Paul O’Grady, Konnie Huq and Samantha Baines.
  • Silly Time with the BBC’s Katie Thistleton and Hacker T Dog.
  • Draw-a-Longs with official Summer Reading Challenge illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, and Rob Biddulph.
  • Magic Tricks and Mind-Bending Maths with Mr Bates from The Shed School.
  • Poetry with performance poet and playwright Joseph Coelho.
  • Crafts, colour and creativity with the original queen of colouring, Johanna Basford.
  • Bedtime Reading session with actor Charlie Condou reading from This is Gus by Chris Chatterton, published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
  • Unveiling of the official ‘Let’s Get Silly!’ theme song by Harry Baker and Chris Read.
Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency commented: “The Reading Agency are ready to have a seriously silly summer! (Why do Giraffes have long legs?) We are looking forward to the nation’s families joining the Silly Squad and taking part in the brand-new digital Summer Reading Challenge. Like previous years the Challenge is free to access, and we are working with libraries, schools and publishers to reach as many young people as possible – especially those who find accessing digital difficult. We are pleased to announce our wonderful ambassadors, including the fantastic Summer Reading Challenge book collection authors who are joining us this year, and we can’t wait for the 5th June and the Let’s Get Silly launch event (because they have smelly feet….)”